Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Annie on What You Know

A popular post from March 2009

by Annette Lyon

I've talked about this before: how the old rule, "write what you know" is highly over-rated. (Read my rant about that here.)

In the last week, I got a great laugh when someone else wrote about the same thing in connection with my new release.

Regarding Annie is a blog written by a woman who is a fun writer in her own right. She's got a newspaper column of the same name that you can click over to on her sidebar.

Her blog post from last Friday was a bit of tongue-in-cheek journalism looking at my supposed in-depth experiences that helped shape the book: things like mine explosions, theft, rattlesnakes, 19th century printing presses, and horse training.

None of which I possess any firsthand knowledge of whatsoever.

All of which play important roles in the book.

If I'd clung to the adage of, "Write what you know," I couldn't have written it. Or any of my other books. In this case, I had a fun storyline and great characters, and I knew I could look up what I needed to and ask for additional help from experts. And that's exactly what I did.

Once and for all, toss out, "Write what you know."

Replace it with, "Write what you're willing to learn about," and (as a commenter said in my earlier post on the topic), "Write what you can imagine."

Then look up the rest.

Read Annie's post here.


Annie Valentine said...

You're the best Annette, and such fantastic advice.

Julie Wright said...


Laura said...

Fiction. If you could only write what you knew, there would be no such thing as imagination and creativity. And doing research is easier now with the internet than it has ever been in the history of mankind. What a resource. If you want to know the temperature in Iceland in December, you can find out in 20 seconds or less. Without getting on an airplane. Thank goodness for that. Real time, or history, there's a lot there.

Kimberly said...

Well said! I've actually ordered a text book on Geology for research regarding my second book. Can't wait to delve in and learn!

Josi said...

My only disclaimer would be that 'write what you know' makes a great starting point. New writer's, especially, can get overwhelmed by coming up with a whole story, taking a step back and looking at what you already know is an empowering position.

And while rattlesnakes and explosions aren't in your own life history, Annette, having children, and falling in love, and believing in God, and believing in history, and having a cultured education and living in Utah (pioneer central) are all elements of your book as well. BUT I whole heartedly agree that if you stop at what you know, you'll never get anywhere. Great post. Now I'm on to read a bit more about Annie . . .

Noble M Standing said...

I so totally agree. I write about an assassin, as much as I have experienced shooting a gun, I have never killed someone, been a guy, in the military, or lived in Australia.

Write what you want. Just be willing to research what you don't have a handle on.

Noble M Standing said...

Kimberly, My DH is a coal mine geologist. Facinating occupation. I ask him a ton of stuff. He is also a shooting sports instructor for the NRA. I get all sorts of weapon information from him.

Liesl said...

I'm really, REALLY starting to like this blog. I'm rather grateful I discovered. I'd have to agree with you on the "write what you know." One of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, ranted and raved (very eloquently, however) about that quote. She rewrote the quote and put, "Write what fascinates you." Wise.

Heather B. Moore said...

I agree Liesl.

Or maybe, Write what you like to read. LOL.

But then that might disqualify me altogether.

So Write What Fascinates You (by Shannon Hale) is just perfect.