Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Writing what you know doesn't mean to limit your writing in a way to make everything too familiar or cliche. It means to use your life experiences as a jumping off point for your writing. 

Writing what you know can help you develop details that bring a rich quality to your story structure.  It can also bring about a familiarity that helps give you confidence to create unique characters, visualize setting, and infuse action and tension in crucial scenes.

Some of the most memorable characters in literature are based, even loosely, on someone the author knew. Almost like the author used their best strengths or limitations and amped them up or down.

When I begin writing a novel, I like to use names of people from my hometown for characters.  I even use some of their idiosyncrasies to develop that character like accent, gestures, hidden talents, even voice. Then, I amplify those tiny distinctive qualities to make a totally new character full of rich detail and life.

What ways do you write what you know?


  1. Good points. I did this for W too!

  2. I once had an epiphany whilst munching on terrible cookies at a writer's conference when the speaker said that you shouldn't so much write what you know. Stephen King doesn't really 'know' monsters...but he knows fear.

    She said you should 'Write what the heart knows'...that really hit home. The story is a vehicle for the truth you want to share.

    I don't know...it worked for me.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  3. I really like this post. People feel that write what you know means that you shouldn't write about a psychologist if you're not one.

    But I like the idea that you can write whoever and whatever if you're going to investigate deep enough.

    So far, I write what I know in that all my characters are People of colour, and they struggle with ideals or concepts I've struggles with.

  4. I find that my characters have characteristics of myself or others I know. Writing from what you know is pretty powerful. I like that you start off with people and names you know and then develop them into new characters.