We have all heard the saying that "To write well, write what you know." Do you agree? I do and here's why.
Write what you know doesn't necessarily mean things that you yourself have experienced, at least that's what I see. Knowing something and experiencing something are two different things. I KNOW that my father, a US Army soldier has nightmares and other mental and physical issues from war. He has told me some of the stories and his experience. I have not EXPERIENED these things myself. I watched them happen, or really watched my Father deal with them, after the fact as a third party. Does this mean that I can't write a convincing story from a soldiers point of view? Most would argue that I couldn't but I could probe my Father's brain for information and make a worthwhile attempt.
Tip #1: If you don't know then research it!
I can already hear folks arguing that you can't write about something effectively if you have not experienced it. You can't get the emotions right and things like that. You may be right but who's to say I can't imagine being a third party WATCHING and writing it from THAT point of view? Like my earlier analogy, I may not be able to write a truely effective story from a soldier's point of view as I am not a soldier. But I could write about what it's like to be the family of a soldier - the wife, the mother, the daughter - that could make for a great story too!
Tip #2: Try a different point of view to get stronger emotions!
Let's get even more crazy and say that I imagine that my Father died when I was a kid! (No, he didn't. He's still alive and kicking to this day.) BUT, how would I feel if he did? I may not have experienced the actual loss of a parent but I already know how I would feel if I had. I know myself well enough!
Tip #3: Imagine how you would react to a situation.
So yea, write what you know. And when you really think about it, you know a lot of things! So get to writing!
I close with a great quote "Fake it until you Make it!" Applys to this quite a bit I think!