Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thoughts for Thursdays

Today's quote:

"We don't write what we know. We write what we wonder about." Richard Peck

I know the old adage is to "write what you know", but when I stumbled across this quote, I realized how true it was (for me anyways - I know it depends on what you're writing).

A lot of us create our books based on "what if" scenarios, and while writing what we know lends the foundation, the real story emerges based on an idea in your head, a burning question to which you are dying to know the answer - what if this happened? How would it work? How would so and so resolve this problem?

Say for example...ummm.. I don't know...What if a girl finds herself falling in love with a vampire who cannot resist the smell of her blood ;) OR What if a young boy, on his 11th birthday, discovers he is a wizard?

Obviously these are not the only cases (Stephen King says the majority of his stories start with this same question), but I guess what I'm trying to say is if we, as writers, didn't wonder about things and try to write them down and find resolutions for them, there may quite a few less books in the world... and wouldn't that make for a dreary place.

Do you agree or disagree? What do you write about - what you know or what you wonder about? Perhaps a little bit of both?


17 comments:

Liza said...

I write a little of both I guess, writing is many times a way to make sense of what you don't know...and a way to say...hmmm what happens next?

Aubrie said...

I write about what I wonder about, but it always has a kernel of the truth in it :)

Kenda said...

Because I love local history, I accumulate "facts" and therefore have lots of research--what I don't know is, who were those people, how did they get along, what problems did they face? I love exploring the unknown of relationships :-)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I write a little bit about both. Sometimes it's a question, sometimes it's a voice/idea that pops into my head and I get curious.
I guess, either way, it is sort of interest in a question/situation. :)

Suzi McGowen said...

For me it's "write what you're interested in". Then, even if I don't know anything about it, I'll find out, and my books will have that realism that any story about faeish needs to have :)

Joanne said...

Definitely a little of both. But the attempt to answer the "what-if" question and draw it out in the characters' lives, is what drives the story.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm with Joanna, a little of both. :)

Jan Cline said...

I have to feel somewhat comfortable with my subject before I write it. I love to research and learn about history for fiction and interesting topics for non fiction. Thought provoking question.

Lua said...

I don’t think we should only write about what we know… We should write what interests us, but we should learn about it- and then write :)

Jayne said...

A little bit of both would be my answer. I also think it helps to have a healthy curiousity about everything in life!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm definitely a "what if" writer. I take a what-if and then go for it.

Amanda Sablan said...

I would think most, if not all, books are written by people who know AND wonder about things. For instance, you can know the setting(s) your book takes place in, and you can relate to your characters in terms of their emotions and problems, but then you may not know a single thing about being a CIA agent. But that's what research and your imagination is for!

Uniqueness in fiction comes about because all of our "what-if" scenarios are not the same. Or they shouldn't be.

Tamara Narayan said...

If I wrote only what I knew, I'm not sure how interesting the book would be. Now that I'm trying to get a new book off the ground, one that takes place in the 1850's, I'm writing where I don't know anything. It's scary, but fun. Plus I'm sucking down history books like their Stephen King novels, something I'd never thought I'd enjoy!

The Red Angel said...

Hmm, well with fiction and creative writing, I think we do tend to write things we wonder about by imagining hypothetical scenes.

But with how-to guides and such things like that, of course we write about things we know.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Nathalie said...

I definitely agree and disagree. I've written a MS about angels and demons and although I know NOTHING about being an angel or a demon, I have always been fascinated about them and their existence. Hence, I wrote about them to broaden my mind as well as others. So, I guess as I'm learning and researching, I am essentially writing what I know. Are we all confused now? LOL

Lisa Gail Green said...

Thank you. Because being an author of paranormal and fantasy, it bugs me when people say you have to write what you know. I like this much better. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I love this quote. Really good post.

I write what I wonder about too, but I also infuse it with what I know to make it more realistic.