Thursday, January 3, 2008

Write What You Know

My first completed manuscript was a long, long historical romance with every subplot known to the genre thrown in. It was hard work to write. I didn’t enjoy doing all that research. I didn’t care what eating utensils folks used in Regency times. I couldn’t see how that information would ever be useful.

So why did I write a historical romance? Because other than business books, that was what I read. I thought that was what people meant when they said “write what you know.”

It wasn’t.

What I was doing was writing what I enjoyed reading. Not the same thing. At. All.

I had this horrendous piece of fiction looked at by a former Harlequin editor. He asked what my background was. I said business. His advice? Once again, the blasted “write what you know.”

However, this time I understood what that meant. Write about the world I truly know, inside and out… the business world.

I figured “why not?!” and started writing. The words rolled off my fingertips. I’d sit in meetings and watch hand movements and strategy plays, knowing that I could use them in my writing. When I got laid off (project people get laid off quite often), I used that painful experience in a novel (Breach Of Trust, my first, out May 2008). Suddenly everything and everyone around me became research.

And writing was fun again.

Now, you might be reading this and thinking “I don’t know anything. I’m a stay at home wife and mother and that is my world.” Exactly. That is your world so write about your world. An author buddy includes children in every novel. She writes children so well that it is clear that she knows and loves them. Her readership? Mothers. I see them devouring her novels on the bus while their babies sleep in the strollers.

We all know something. Write what you know.