Write What You Know

They say ‘Write what you know’.

My friend, Donald Harstad, said that this mantra is the reason he doesn’t write sex scenes.  Funny guy, that Don.  Go buy his books.  They’re awesome.

Aside from bad jokes (which I’m sure Steph loves – Hi hon!), the mantra can be interpreted in a thousand different ways.  Type it into Google and feel free to browse the 73,000,000 hits.

I’ve been having some trouble with Genie Memories.  Certain scenes weren’t flowing.  It seemed like a struggle to get some sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.  I kept trying to tell myself – ‘Is this essential to the story?’ and the answer kept coming back ‘Yes.  It’s essential to move the plot forward.  Theo has to be involved in the FBI sting because it brings him into contact with two very important characters who are essential to the plot.’

I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.  The whole thing left me pretty frustrated for about a week now.  I kept grabbing books – Don’s police thrillers, Steven Kent’s Clone series, Scalzi’s Old Man’s War novels – anything that had sting operations or military planning in it.  I had to figure out how they did it.

Then it struck me.  Yes, that scene was essential.  The way I was going about it, however, was wrong.  I didn’t know the first thing about how the FBI sets up sting operations. No matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t going to work because it wasn’t going to be authentic.  Without the writing being authentic, it would be fall flat and drag, which is exactly what was happening.

With that revelation, a whole flood of ideas came to me.  In less than twenty minutes, I’d written almost 600 words of notes and text.  I modified four chapters.  I setup a major source of conflict to add tension and drama.   Plotted a scene to add some depth and dimension to the character.

Huh.  Four little words did all that.  And I know that makes me pretty damn happy.

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