Friday, March 21, 2008

Wayne Thomas Batson (Advice for Novelists, Part 30)

Another author chimes in today with his terrific response to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Don't just write about what you know. I know, I've heard other author's say it; you've heard your teachers preach it: write what you know. And the theory behind that advice is good. Write about what you know because you have the inside info, the details, and the experience to write about that topic or field. You play county soccer? Good, now go write a story about a character who plays county soccer. You have piano practice every Thursday? Wonderful, now go write about a character who plays piano. Now that's fine advice if you're writing for an audience of one or two. Will it work to get you published? Uh...not so much.

Writing what you know will not get you published unless, of course, your day job is: CIA Code Breaker, Supernatural Phenomenon Investigator, CSI Agent, or Tour Guide for the Amazon Jungle. What I'm saying is, the average, day to day life is not interesting enough to be the plot of a book. Now, if something interrupts that normal life: a tragedy, a phenomenon, a mystery--well, now we're talking. Most readers want a story to grab them, to move them, to take them places they've never been to before. Most publishers want the same thing.

So, how do you write about stuff you don't know? 1. Research: watch the Discovery Channel, read National Geographic, surf the World Wide Web--there's a novel plot, character, or setting just waiting for you. 2. Make it up: Now, this especially applies to the whacked lot of writers who want to write fantasy or scifi. You get to open your mind and just create. Make things the human eye has never seen before. Tweak reality. Have fun. Chances are, if you have fun, your readers will too.

--Wayne Thomas Batson, author of the Door Within trilogy, as well as Isle of Swords. Visit him online at his blog here.

1 comment:

Merrie Destefano said...

This is a great series! I love it!
Merrie Destefano