When I first started writing my first novel two years ago I was filled with doubt as to what to write about. There is heaps of information and advice out there to help guide new writers – a lot of it I found confusing.
Here are what some people suggest you should write about:
Write what you know
Write what you know eg events that have happened to you. The key word here is events. When I thought about my life there weren’t many events that I could recall that I could write about (hey, I obviously don’t get out much!).
Also my ‘real’ job doesn’t involve solving crime, being a lawyer, a psychologist nor have I worked for a famous person or experienced near death.
But in Write what you know – the most misunderstood good piece of advice ever goes further in that write what you know is about emotions – and we’ve all experienced emotions – love, loss, happiness, sadness, joy, confusion etc – even me! And you take those emotions and apply them to your characters.
Write what you like to write
So taking that emotion you’ve experienced in life you can then write what you like to write.
I liked the bones of my story and wanted to stay away from what seemed really popular, the paranormal trend. I’ve always wanted to write a story about brothers who have to cope with challenges and pull together after their parents are killed. That storyline for me was so strong it wouldn’t go away. And I just had to write Haven River.
If you have a story to tell, then tell it!
Write what you like – Why “Write what you know” is bad advice backs this up. Focusing on what interests you will make your writing better.
Write what you like to read
Liz Long explains this beautifully in The best writing advice ever – write what you want to read. She wrote about what she wanted to read, but couldn’t find a book about it.
I can identify with this. When I was younger I read the Enid Blyton series of books about girls’ adventures when they were at boarding schools – St Clare’s and Malory Towers. I devoured these books. But I was in a state of depression when I finished because Enid Blyton had only written these two series and I couldn’t find any others. So guess what I did? Yes, I wrote my own when I was around 11-12 years old. I wrote a whole series and this somehow satisfied my need to read about girls at a boarding school. I actually still have my handwritten manuscripts from all those years ago and maybe one day… They would need a lot of reworking to bring them up to the current market standard, but you never know!
I love Ava Joe‘s philosophy: If you want other people to love your work you need to love it first.
Having published my first book I’m now writing what I like to write (apparently that’s now contemporary romance), what I like to read (I seem to reading a lot of Australian rural outback contemporary romance lately) and writing what I know – bringing all those emotions into that could fill a thesaurus.
If you don’t write what you want to read then it’ll be hard for you to finish your writing.
What are you writing about? Which one of the three above have you followed?