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Thursday, December 17, 2015

How Can I Write What I Know When I Know So Little?


We've all heard write what you know. I say know what you write. If we had to stick to write what you know, there would be many books by our favorite authors. 

In fact, I'm changing that up to: Include what you know and learn what you don't. That's more fun, don't you think? 

Do you have to journey to a far-off land to do your research? Road trip! It's more fun, but if you're a new writer, who hasn't got deep pockets, then plan your road trip via the Internet. 

Do you want your protagonist to be a law enforcement officer? Go to your local police. They often offer a citizen's police academy to acquaint the citizens with police activity.

Want your hero to be an archeologist? Go dig up your back yard, see what you can find. Okay, that's not enough, you've got to do more research. But you get the idea.

Most writers could have a coffee barista as a protagonist, since most of us have spend countless hours in coffee shops. See? That's a "know".

The main character in my debut novel, Chapel Springs Revival, is a potter. I'm not a potter. Neither is the hubs, although he is an artist. But I researched making pottery, went to visit a potter in his workshop/gallery. I observed, and used what I learned. I used my "know" in the Southern setting and the food.

In another book, not yet published, I placed it in both the South and Albany, New York in the capitol. My main character was a pro-family lobbyist, something I know well, since I'd been one. I was always fascinated with the underground between New York's capitol and the legislature and other buildings in the downtown area. I used that.

In my sophomore novel, Chapel Springs Survival, I have Claire trying out a new art form. And I had to learn about how it was done. Boy, am I glad I did. I thought it was done a certain way but found out it wasn't. (Am I teasing you? Yes!)

The moral of this is don't be hampered by thinking you can't write about something you don't know. Learn about it. Research it well, then write!


  1. Nice tips, Ane. I've always thought a healthy sense of nosiness, er, curiosity, is a good thing for a novelist, as it helps fuel our research!

    I've been to
    to the Capitol Building in Albany, and it's impressive. (We actually explored moving to that area, but The Lord did not open that door.)

  2. Did you go into the underground part of the capitol? It's amazing, how you can go from one building to another one a block away. But then, it gets Alaska cold up there, sometimes. It was a smart way to set-up the government buildings.

  3. I'm not sure I recall doing that. I do remember it being COLD. :) lol In retrospect, I'm very thankful the Lord led us out here to Ohio instead of moving us to Albany! (We get cold here too, but not for as long and we don't get the snow they get.)

  4. I didn't mind the cold or the snow. What got to me was the gray. Most of the trees up there are disciduous so they're bare and the sky is gray. That is what finally got to me. As we faced out 5th winter there, we moved back to GA. Whew!


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