Write About What You Know

a spirit typing a book

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by ADMIN-TOM

Ever since I picked up a pencil and wrote my first short story, Planet A for Acid, I’ve been told I should write about what I know. Back then it was 1963, I was eight years old and to be honest, I didn’t know a lot. I was, however, precocious. Someone described me as an old head on young shoulders. My wife insists I was never a child. But even so, I didn’t know an awful lot at eight and by the time I got round to writing my first novel, I used my father’s experiences in World War II as the basis for Operation Werewolf, because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. That soon changed when I wrote The Diary of a Debt Collector, which was based on my wife’s experiences as a debt collector… and then something happened, my juices were flowing and out came The Brittle Sea, which became a trilogy and the flood gates opened for story ideas.

The Brittle Sea features Captain Richard Blackmore as the protagonist, but he wasn’t based on any sea captain I know, because I don’t know any. He also wasn’t based on my experiences in the navy, because I have never been in the navy, or the army or the airforce – oh, I did take off and fly a plane once. As all three services are featured in The Brittle Saga trilogy, you would expect I had some experience in anything I wrote about. But no, I know nothing, to quote a famous Spanish waiter.

Let’s face it, if you want to write a ghost story, you’re hardly going to wait until you drop dead to start writing. So it’s down to imagination, not experience, in a lot of genres we write about. I suppose if you wanted to be a method writer (not sure there is such a thing) you could always join the mafia if you wanted authenticity in a crime thriller you’re writing. As it happens that’s exactly what I’m doing, in my WIP No. 5, writing a crime thriller, but I’m not joining the mafia, I hasten to add.

Next time you decide you want to write a science fiction thriller like alien, use your imagination, because neither NASA or SpaceX are likely to let you ride on their next moonshot just for the experience.

Good luck, and remember, write about what you can imagine, it’s much more fun.

Copyright  © Tom Kane 2024

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