Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Write What You Know...Or Don't Know

We’ve all heard it, the adage Write what you know. I’ve often wondered what that means. For young writers, too young to do research, I encourage them to write about family, friendship, pets, etc.—writing about what they know.

What about everyone else? Writing what we know bases our fiction in facts and gives a realistic feel to the story, which is a good thing for the reader. The Write-what-you-know principle for aspiring writers can be limiting, too. I’ve seen some writers who are hesitant to change scene injected into a fiction story because it didn’t happen that way in real life. This restriction allows a writer to write only autobiographical information. While that may work for a scene or two in a fiction story, it limits the imagination and creativity of the author. This often happens when the writer attempts to tell a story in honor of someone admired. My suggestion is to use the information as inspiration and write the story with the idea of engaging the reader in storytelling as opposed to recreating the actual event.
Take liberties with actual events that happen in everyday life and build on it to create a world that draws in the reader. Life experiences—working in the medical field, teaching, and other life know-hows—provide valuable insight into characters and plots. Mine your experiences for potential stories but tell in in a way that expands your options. Tell the story that excites you and use your experiences to tell it in the most imaginative, creative way.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
Edited and produced by the students in the Writing & Publishing Program at Walnut Hill, The Blue Pencil Online publishes verse, short fiction, and playwriting in English by young writers (ages 12-18) around the world.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE JOY OF LESS. Submit your poem or prose about the theme: Having More by Simplifying Our Lives. We have noticed at Chicken Soup for the Soul that we have received hundreds of stories over the years about people happily simplifying their lives, cutting back on material possessions, and reducing their time commitments so they can focus on what is important to them and their families. Share your own stories or resolutions about the joy of less! Deadline October 30, 2015. Pays $200 and ten copies for up to 1,200 words.

Submission guidelines at

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