Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Write What You Don't Know

I decided to use my day on Make Mine Mystery as one of my blog stops on my tour for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes. Coming up with new topics to write about has been a challenge. For this one, I thought I’d go against the usual advice of writing what you know.

Truthfully, don’t most of write about what we don’t know as well as what we do know? J.K. Rowling didn’t know about wizards, magic and a school of wizardry, she made most of it up. Same thing with the Twilight series, did the author have first-hand knowledge about vampires and werewolves? What these authors did know is how people act during all sorts of disasters and calamities, and how much a person will do to reach a goal. As an author we use what we do know and our personal experience and build on that with our imaginations and any necessary research.

We take what we do know and use it to write what we don’t know. With today’s technology we are able to research anything and find out at least enough to make us sound like we know what we are writing about.

In my own case, I’ve never been a resident deputy sheriff like my heroine Tempe Crabtree. But I have known several, interviewed one, and talked to others. I have relatives and friends in law enforcement and for the most part, I know they are like all the rest of us.

I’m also not an Indian like Tempe, but again I have friends and relatives who are. I can research Indian legends and lore to use in my mysteries.

When it comes to haunted houses and ghosts, I have had some personal experience, but that was the topic of another blog.

Of course it’s much easier if you do know what you’re writing about, but when you have a good story idea, let your imagination go wild.  Do the research you need later. And remember, less is more. I’ve read too many stories where the author was so knowledgeable about what he or she was writing, the story suffered because of too many facts.

Marilyn Meredith

Blurb for Spirit Shapes: Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

To buy direction from the publisher in all formats:

And of course, Amazon.

I've been putting up different photos of me on each blog, so here's today's:

Middle daughter Lisa and me
 Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation. She does like to remind everyone that she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and follow her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/


The person who comments on the most blogs on this blog tour will have the opportunity to have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting here: http://rabbiauthor.com/


Lorna Collins - said...

So true. We write what we know and research what we don't.

Earl Staggs said...

You're so right, Marilyn. Thanks to the Internet(Google is my friend!)I can write about anything and anywhere. I just finished a story that takes place entirely in the Middle East. I had to research what they wear, what kind of weapons and vehicles to use, and even what kind of grass grows there. Back in the day, we had to go to the library for research. Now all we have to do is click.

Anonymous said...

Marilyn, love what you said about doing research later, after you've let your imagination run wild. I usually do the reverse in my WWII romance novellas, but I'm going to take a stab at NaNoWritMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and see how much of a novel I can draft in a month. Not my usual writing process but it will give me a chance to try out your "Run wild, do research later" strategy. Thank you for this bit of good writerly advice.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I sometimes find the research to be the most fun part of the process. I frequently learn something that gives me another idea for another story or scene.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks for your comments everyone, I appreciate you taking the time to read these and follow along on my blog tour.

Morgan Mandel said...

Sometimes when you write what you know about you take a lot for granted, because it's already in your mind. Researching something new can be exciting, fun, and can even turn out to be more in depth.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I agree about research, it can trigger a whole new plot line.

Holli said...

Marilyn, out of all of your blog topics, this one caught my attention the most. You are right that it's pounded into our collective heads to write what we know. I think, for me, sticking to writing what I know is borne of fear.

You would think that writers, being bold enough to pursue writing in the first place, wouldn't fear any part of the writing process, but I'm always afraid to mess up something. I even research things I know, just in case I've forgotten something.

If your writing and tenacity hadn't already earned my respect, your fearlessness would have. Great insightful post Marilyn.

Holli Castillo