December 26, 2013

Writing what we know about

Dear M,

Continuing where we left off in the last post, how can we make our reading interesting or true? The only way I know (and essentially the only way to write your first story or novel) is to write about what you know.

There is nothing new in that advice: you cannot expect a first-time writer to write about a life he/she knows nothing about, not in his very first attempt. (It isn't impossible, though.) And I am not talking about a short story that spans the possibilities of the other side. But the way I see it, we all take some time to come to terms with our writing, settle down in our style, etc. This is achieved when we write about things we know. The story can come from our heart, we do not have to make that up as well - we can concentrate on our style. Those initial drafts, they can be discarded or used later.

Then as we grow bolder and confident to experiment with other topics, topics we know nothing of, topics which need a lot of research and understanding, we can step out of familiar territory and create new worlds.

By then, keeping the reader enthralled would have become a skill that we had mastered in our learning cycles.


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