Write What You Know: Knowing More Than You Put On The Page

knowing more

As a writer, I feel the need to really know my characters, their situations, their props and settings.

For The Edge of Darkness, that wasn’t so hard. It was largely a made-up world, set in deep space on a spaceship and the weapons used were also made up.

Internet-Based Research

I did some research on amputees and prosthetics to try to get a feel for what Max might be feeling as a cyborg with a robotic arm. I researched what kind of food could theoretically be grown on a spaceship. I researched some other science-y things. But when I wrote the story, I probably knew a lot more than I was putting in to the book.

With Winter Witch, one of my characters wears a monocle. I had no idea how monocles stayed put, so I did some research to better understand my character. I found out how someone inserts and wears a monocle, and I felt like I had a strong grasp on the eyepiece and I wrote it into the book.

When I mentioned the research to friends, another author piped up that she was interested in how people wore monocles. I was surprised, because I was sure I’d read one of her characters in one of her books I’d read actually did wear a monocle. I was surprised because this author didn’t know how her character wore a monocle and she clearly hadn’t done the research into finding it out. Maybe she didn’t care. Maybe it wasn’t important. The character wore a monocle and that’s all we needed to know.

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Write what you know.

“Write what you know” is probably one of the most repeated pieces of writing advice out there. And it’s true, you should write about what you know. But you can always expand upon what you know by research.

As for me? I didn’t feel comfortable writing about a character who wore a monocle until I knew exactly how a monocle worked. I think it’s an issue with my perfectionism that I needed to research something so foreign to me. But I didn’t want to make some basic mistake that a monocle-wearing fan might point out in the book.

My character doesn’t even take his monocle off or put it back on, so I’m not quite sure why it was so important to me to know these things. Maybe for future reference? I’m sure I only mention the monocle in passing.

The research I did certainly wasn’t earth-shattering, but as a writer I felt like I needed to know more than I was putting on the page.

I think that’s why we’re told to write what we know.

Storm of Blood on Amazon and a whole lot of links

Storm of Blood final cover

Storm of Blood is on Amazon.com for 99c. This introductory offer will last for all of May, and then the price will go up.

Also, just a reminder that Storm of Blood can also be downloaded from Smashwords for free using the coupon code EA42K on check out. The coupon expires at the end of May.

The first several chapters are also available to read for free on Goodreads. Check it out if you’re not sure if you want to commit to a purchase. You can also read excerpts on Amazon and Smashwords before purchasing.

Currently Storm Front and The Archive of Lost Dreams are available for free on Smashwords and for 99c on Amazon. I am trying to make them available for free on Amazon as well, but the process and not easy and I beg for your patience in the matter. You can help by visiting their Amazon pages, scrolling down a bit to ‘tell us about a lower price’, and reporting they are available for free on some of the bigger sellers like Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony and Diesel. Here, I’ll even make it super easy by providing all the links:

Storm Front:

Amazon – currently 99c.

Free on:

Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Diesel
Kobo

The Archive of Lost Dreams:

Amazon – currently 99c.

Free on:

Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Sony

As usual, The Edge of Darkness is 99c on Smashwords and Amazon.

My Top 5 Favourite Fantasy Books

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder

Touch of Power (Healer, #1)

I think my review went something along the lines of: OMG *flail* FANGIRL *flail* some more.

Avry steps into leadership positions when she needs to, kicks ass when she needs to, and comforts and mothers when she needs to. She’s got a great balance of feminine and masculine traits, and she’s neither an uber-warrior nor a damsel in distress. She grows throughout the novel as well. She’s like… my perfect heroine that I never wrote.

Draykon by Charlotte E English

Draykon (Draykon, #1)

My review of Draykon was roughly the same as my review for Touch of Power.

Charlotte has an obvious gift for beautiful prose and many a time I caught myself drooling over her wonderfully constructed sentences.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined

I’m pretty sure this was more of the same.

Once I opened the book, I was blown away. Just blown away. I did not expect this calibre, wit, and execution. The characters were simply gorgeous. The writing was incredible. And the humour! I have never laughed out loud so many damn times in a novel that wasn’t 1) a comedy or 2) written by a comedian. It’s just… the humour! The fluff! The witty comebacks and fantastic situations!

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

This novel broke my heart.

Fire’s character development was really awesome. I’m so sad that people put this book down half way through. She grows magnificently both in personality, character, and power. She makes her own choices, and even when her choice is taken away from her, she manages to gain control of the situation.

Talyn by Holly Lisle

Talyn (Korre, #1)

Holly Lisle taught me everything I know about writing. Literally.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.
Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

And We’re Done! (Again)

So after a month and a half of gruelling editing where I have totally shirked my August Camp NaNoWriMo aspirations, I have finally completed the newest, shiniest draft of Storm of Blood.

It’s going off to some loyal and totally fantastic beta readers ahead of it landing in the lap of my shiny editor in a couple of months.

I am so relieved! This year has been so difficult, what with my grandfather dying (I so cannot deal with grief narratives right now), moving to Australia, finding employment, dealing with said employment (some times I just need to relax!), and planning a wedding. I seem to be the kind of person who puts so much effort into what I do, a perfectionist attitude, that I have no energy for anything else other than what I’m working on at the time. I have no idea how other writers manage to do it. Most of the time I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.

But yay! And also, these characters? Tina and Ten won’t leave me alone. They’re already harassing me for a new book. Jeez, guys! I just finished the last one! Give me some time to relax.