28 January 2014

Write What You Know

If the following video is the reality of today, no wonder we turn toward fiction in order to escape it. I bet when the guy left the courtroom, he still had no idea why they lost. Sad. Really sad. He's my character of the day. Watch the video, and then my post is after.

The advice I've heard over and over again through the years is that we should write what we know. I think for the most part, this is true for non-fiction. I'm not going to write a book about how to fix cars if I don't know how to fix cars. I know how to use HTML, CSS, and Java to develop applications and websites. But, I don't want to write about application development. I don't want to write to teach, I want to write to entertain. Make sense?

I want to write fiction! I want to write about things I don't know. I've never murdered anyone, but I can imagine how I'd feel if I were fixing to get caught after having done so. How would I feel if I'd woken one morning and realized I'd hit someone with my car while in a drunken stupor? Would I turn myself in?

Probably, but not until I'd spent a great deal of time trying to rid myself of the guilt, telling myself nobody would ever find out. I know exactly how conflicted I'd be, and you'd be lying to yourself if you say you'd feel any differently. It's called the human psyche, and you have it if you're not a sociopath.

Of course, you'd never drive drunk! That would be illegal. But that doesn't mean your character shouldn't. Let them run someone over. If you've done your job to make your character likable, your reader will instantly feel what any human being would feel.

The guilt. The fear. The dreadful thought of spending a good part of life in prison, away from children and family. Because I'm human, it is a given that I can reason and appeal to other humans in this way, and therefore, I am writing what I know.

But Diane, how do the kids in the video relate to this post?

They don't. They are just a reminder to us all that Dumb and Dumber things don't just happen in fiction. Besides, I thought it might entertain you. Until next time...

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