What I wish I’d known (Part 4)

Here is my continuing series on the five things that I wish I’d known when I started out writing. Check out the other parts one, two, and three.

4.    Research is useful (write what you don’t know)
I am sure you have heard somewhere that you should write what you know. Yes, that is good. You can do that and produce writing that you may feel is important. But if you write what you don’t know, you can really grow as a writer. Writing about what you don’t know can open your eyes to new things. I am not saying you should wing it. No, do your research.
One of my favorite authors, David Morrell, (He wrote First Blood and many great novels since then)  is an avid researcher. He has gone to classes to learn about hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, and weapons training just to name a few. He became a pilot so one of the characters in his recent novels, The Shimmer, would be a realist pilot. Sure he could have read about these things, but reading about them wouldn’t have given him the same experiences as going out and learning them firsthand. Firsthand experience is a great way to make those scenes real.
When I was writing my unpublished novel, my main character drove a very expensive car that I could never afford. But there was a car dealer in town and I used the words that you may find useful in the future: “Hi, I’m an author and I’m doing research for my next novel. I’d like to…” When I used those words, I was handed the keys to a car I would never be able to afford. Better yet, I didn’t have the hassle of dealing with a car salesman. He was more than happy to help. Better still, by getting to experience the car firsthand, I was able to understand its limitations. I knew how I realistically could use it in the plot and even how it felt sitting behind the wheel. I was able to write it and know my stuff in a manner that was realistic and believable.
When you do solid research and put in the time to really know your subject, you will finally be able to write what you know. And because you started out writing what you didn’t know, your new piece will not be tired and boring.

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One thought on “What I wish I’d known (Part 4)

  1. Pingback: What I wish I’d known (Part 5) | T. Marcus Christian

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