Write what you know? Or what you can find out?

gold mine interior

I’ve always heard the old “rule” that you should write what you know. Now, I tend to do a lot of research, even when I “know” what I’m writing about. Learning new things is one of the perks of being a writer of any genre. Some of the time I do research online, as I am retired and have lots of time to sit at the computer and seek out what I need to know. The rest of the time I either go to the library, or go sit outside on a park bench and watch people. Yes, watch people.

The one thing I do for research and ideas that completely drives my husband nuts is this: I’ll see a story in a newspaper, online, or on TV and wonder out loud, “What if…?” That’s what writer do: we wonder What If and go from there.

My current WIP came out of a writing exercise in which I put a Marine Vet on a Harley and let him go home. Now I’m up to 15,000 words and going strong. I also researched my home state, South Carolina, and the modern trend of reviving old played out gold mines, and the ecological damage that can happen from fracking, and mercury processing of gold ore.

I’m learning as I write without a net (outline) that characters can take you places you might never go on your own. So writing what I know wouldn’t have given me the idea for this novel, or for the short stories I will write using these characters.

How do you write? Do you write what you know, or do you find out what you need to know in order to write a great story? Let me know and let the conversation begin.


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