Musings of a Twiftie

a teen writing for teens

Writing What You Don’t Know October 23, 2010

Filed under: discussions — maenadwrites @ 11:11 pm

First of all, sorry for the hiatus. But I’m back, and ready to ramble! So read, and tell me what you think about writing what we don’t know!

sf

~~~~~~

d

Every writer on the planet has heard the saying.

a

“Write what you know.”

d

And sure, it’s great advice when you’re getting started, but you can only write your autobiography so many times before you start realizing that you don’t know much at all. And what you do know, it’s pretty boring.

a

Once you realize that, you’ll want to start writing stuff you don’t know anything about. And once you start, you just can’t stop. You’re hooked on the thrill, the adrenaline, of writing the unknown.

d

I don’t know about you guys, but one of my favorite parts of being a writer is writing what I don’t know.

d

Of course, there are so many things we don’t know about. It could be a place, a time period, an emotion, a POV, anything. Let’s try an example.

o

Maybe you threw a dart at a map to come up with your MC’s hometown, and now you’re stuck trying to write about the everyday woes in the little town of Stoneham, Colorado. Or maybe your MC lives on the planet Oxetywalonxx, which you and your cat came up with that night that you couldn’t fall asleep after drinking a gallon or two of coffee.

d

d

Either way, you don’t know anything about these places. You’ve never been to Stoneham, and certainly not to Oxetywalonxx. But now you’re going to write about it if it kills you. Metaphorically speaking; you’re probably not big on the whole dying thing.

d

There are two basic ways to go about writing what you don’t know. A, research, and B, imagination. Personally B is my favorite, but I can’t always use it. Each method only works in some cases.

d

See, research won’t work for Oxetywalonxx because it doesn’t exist, therefor it would be pretty much impossible to find information on it. But research would work for Stoneham, because there is probably plenty of information about it.

f

Sorry, research cat, Wikipedia is my research BFF

 

Research, ew. It sounds so much like work. But it’s hugely important to a writer. Say you’re writing about Italy in the year 1472. If you just make it all up, no one will ever know, right? After all, who cares if it’s accurate as long as the MC gets the bad guy or kisses the girl?

f

And to some degree, it’s fine to just use your imagination and make it all up as you go. If you say Marie Antoinette wore a pink dress at her coronation when she actually wore a blue one, that’s fine! Creative license and all that! But what if Marie Antoinette’s coronation wasn’t in 1472? What if she hadn’t even been born yet? What is she wasn’t from Italy at all? Yeah, that might be a wee bit of a problem.

f

I totally understand. Research reminds me too much of homework! But it’s a necessity. So don’t forget Method A for writing what you don’t know!

f

Imagination is such a huge part of us writers. If you can honestly tell me that, as a writer, you have no use for imagination, I will give you a million bucks. Monopoly bucks, of course.

f

But seriously, imagination is sometimes necessary when you can’t turn to research. If you’re writing about a character eating a live duck, you might not want to go out and eat a live duck to know exactly what it tastes like. It’s probably safer if you just go the imagination way.

f

Or say your character has just robbed a bank and is feeling victorious. Please don’t go robbing banks just so you can be sure that you’re writing her joy in the right way. Just get comfy and imagine it.

f

Because hey, who doesn’t love an excuse to grab an ice cream sandwich and daydream about what it’s like to kiss a cowboy in the middle of the desert, or win a million bucks in Vegas, or climb to the top of the Everest? Method B, gotta love it.

f

This concludes our tour through writing the unknown. Whether you’re writing about a 32-year-old psychopath who kills his victims by cutting out their kidneys with a soda straw, or a ten-year-old princess who lives in a castle made of marshmallows and bubble wrap, don’t forget to have fun writing what you don’t know!

f

~Mae

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2 Responses to “Writing What You Don’t Know”

  1. Awesome post, Mae! You’re so funny! I like! :D I’m probably going to do a similar post tomorrow because you’ve inspired me :P


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