Haven’t we all had our fair share of the crippling writing advice: Write What You Know? The givers of this advice come at you with hard buttocks rendered rigid from sitting so long in the writers’ comfort zone. They don’t ‘waste’ time imagining what is unfamiliar to them and they don’t attempt to tell stories not crafted about characters like them within settings like the ones in which they live.
This approach to storytelling is stifling and it is a silent whisper that clips the wings of creativity. I have no idea why imagination should be tamed, and if every writer listened to this advice, we probably wouldn’t have fantasies and characters like Snape and a world where Dobby was a free elf… And who doesn’t want to be free?
Creatives that listen to Write What You Know have brains putting on weight everyday because they’re not flexed in creating unusual stories that make the most unusual reading experience.
I think the only time you should take Write What You Know seriously is when it’s obvious that your story is lacking in logical and emotional sense. A story that lacks both is not just going to be unbelievable, it’d also be creativity working in reverse, and I don’t know what that could be called. Lunacy, maybe.
I like to think of art as a venture with no rules. That’s why unlike science, you can begin a story with the end and end with the beginning. Art has no rules. It only needs to make sense. Harry Potter made sense to every reader and I assume J.K. Rowling didn’t need to become a witch to tell about witches and their school curriculum.
Write what makes sense, not necessarily what you know. I promise I’ll read.
“It is a strange thing to be lost in space. It is a stranger thing to be lost in time. I lost track of time the the day, or week or month or year my ship landed in Plutonia, a planet with no nights. I couldn’t tell my age anymore.”
Does the above paragraph make sense logically and emotionally? Do you think as a human, the author knows anything about a planet with no nights? Do you appreciate the creativity?