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When you start writing, you’ll hear over and over again the old adage “write what you know.” In some ways, it’s good advice. It makes sense to pull some of your own experiences and infuse them into your story. However, I think that’s way too limiting of a saying. If you’re only supposed to write what you know, how exactly should you go about writing a story on an imaginary planet or a story of shape-shifting giraffe? (Okay, not actually writing that last one.)
Only writing about what we know could turn out to be a pretty boring stack of books unless your life has been memoir-worthy interesting. We’re in the information age. If you don’t know about something, you have more knowledge than you could ever need at your fingertips with the internet. And if you need more hands on experience, you can go out there and get it. Are you writing a novel with a lot of police procedures? Go interview a cop or do a ride along. And if you’re writing the kind of books I write, then well, research can be even more fun. (Just ask my husband, lol.) Believe me, if anyone ever checks out my search history, they’re going to draw some pretty interesting conclusions about me. ;)
So though I use “write what you know” is some regards--Brynn is a social worker (my former job), the story is in Dallas (where I live), and Brynn is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (something I’m familiar with due to my psychology background)--I use it sparingly. The fun of writing is the creation. I don’t have to find a place like The Ranch (the BDSM resort in my book) to write about it. I can build it from the ground up in my mind. For me to write a love scene with a rockstar, I don’t actually have to sleep with a rockstar. (Though, Jared Leto, if you ever want to donate your body to literary research, give me a call.)
And sometimes knowing too many “facts” can even work against you. Ever read a book where you can tell the writer has the same job as the heroine or hero? There are so many mundane details about the day to day job, and it’s boring! When you know something so well, sometimes you can info dump and that can drag a story down. The key is finding a balance between writing accurately about something, but keeping it interesting and relevant to the story.
So write what you know...or don’t! That’s why they call it fiction. : )
If you wrote a book, what kind of research would you need or want to do?
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Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.