Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing What You Know

We've all heard this one, haven't we? "Write what you know about." Good advice in all circumstances, right?

Right?

What happens when what you know about is boring?

I'll shed a little light here. I'm smarting (well, not as badly as earlier on) due to a "no-thanks" from a publisher I hoped would pick up PEACEWEAVER. Its problem was apparently not the writing, or I expect the editor would've mentioned that. The problem was the setting. Nobody is going to read a novel set in Wales in 973.

Um. I would.

Anyway, getting past this a bit--my contemporary novels are "write what I know" as far as setting. Now, I don't live in a sleepy southern town with lots of tradition and "hey, how y'all doin'?" feeling. I live in a suburb of a congested, irritating big city. My burb is where I was raised. It's what I know. I can get around on foot or on my bike, and I know where the best bike routes are, the wet places after it rains, and why you shouldn't trust the forest preserve at night.

But this isn't interesting! I'm wondering now whether my contemporaries are being turned down by larger houses simply because of setting. I've made up my own Illinois small town that I use in two published books, and I love going to DeBrett. For my WIP, it's Shelley, Iowa, which also lives only in my mind, but is modeled on a small town.

But the romantic settings? The small town with a native's feel for how people there live and interact? Those are not mine to offer. I do, of course, have my very own burb...

2 comments:

Janny said...

Don't be silly, the suburbs aren't boring. Otherwise, where would Desperate Housewives get all its ideas???

(sigh)

Write on!
T1

sharon said...

As it stands, the "write what you know" advice is silly.

Ray Bradbury had never been to Mars. Isaac Asimov wouldn't fly.

There are hundreds of other examples. But all these authors wrote the emotional truth.