“Write What You Know” and What That Means

Kristen Lamb offers some good thoughts on the old writing mantra “Write what you know,” as well as a heartbreaking story that illustrates exactly what she is talking about. Go read it.

-Tim

Kristen Lamb's Blog

We often hear the saying, “Write what you know,” and that advice can be seriously confusing. Since I’m assuming most of us have never been abducted by aliens, lived on other planets or turned into vampires, the story world would be a very boring place if we followed this advice literally.

Plot and world-building are merely delivery systems for conflict and character—real “human” emotions and experiences. If we write something that’s all car chases, vampire bites and geeky technology we’ve invented, the story will be uninteresting and superficial. I see this in a lot of submissions I review. A writer gets so fascinated with dragons or terrorists or aliens that the body of the work lacks a beating human heart.

Any good story should be able to change locations or points in history and still make sense. A Thousand Acres is King Lear on an Iowa farm. Fiction…

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