Write the (Un) Known Aaron D. Brinker
Write the (Un) Known
by Aaron D. Brinker
With writing, people have been told for years, “Write what you know.” In most cases, this is great advice. In other aspects, following this advice is limiting. Writing what you know and don’t know both have their advantages and disadvantages. There are a lot of reference books on writing that recommend writing what you know and protest writing what you don’t.
Writing What You Know
Writing what you know keeps you within your comfort zone. The best knowledge is first hand. If a writer has been exposed to the subject matter, they remember the sights, smells, sounds, feel, and emotion of the experience. Personal experience will always be easy to write about in the sense that the author can dictate from memory. They can remember what it smelled like at a bakery in Germany, or how the breeze felt and smelled at the peak of a Mountain.
An author who writes what they don’t know, will acquire knowledge and will expand their horizons. If done correctly, writing about new unknown things will increase knowledge and lead the author to do in depth research. This can lead to more inspiration and new experiences and it will lead the work to be more credible.
An Author that only writes what they know, limits themselves from expanding their horizons. It keeps them in their comfort zone and in so doing only gives them a minute amount of “inventory” with which to work.
If little or no research is done by a writer writing about a subject they have little or no knowledge of, they tempt a massive backlash. Reviewers are quick to point out faults in a lot of cases. Trolls are prevalent online and are just looking for any ammunition available. Authors also rob themselves of knowing more to better perfect their craft. The misappropriation of information in a work by an author will decimate their credibility. Granted, with fiction there is some leeway, but not with common facts. If an Author is awful with Geography and tells a story about walking on the paved streets of Venice in Summer, it would probably lead to a few laughs and some irritation of the reader.
Expand your Horizons
For beginning authors, writing what you know is fantastic advice. It gets a foot in the door to learn the ins and outs of putting together a story and about the publishing process. For seasoned writers, do in depth research (and travel if you feel so inclined) to expand your mental and physical experiences. It limits you, and possibly your credibility, to stay within your comfort zone.