Writing Thought for Monday, April 28th, 2008

...there's no experience like personal experience...

Aeschylus - "The reward of suffering is experience."

     Ol' Aeschylus had it right.  Who can know more about our daily existence than the one who is living it?  If you really want to add a level of realism or believability to your writing then you have to have an indisputable command of your subject matter.  If you long to write about deep-sea diving then it would help immensely if you were certified in scuba diving and could apply some real world experience to your tale.  If you wish to write a murder mystery that takes place in the Adirondack Mountains...then you better start GOOGLING and making notes of the Adirondack culture and police procedure.  Writers fabricate.  We lie.  Readers want to believe the lie.  They really, really do.  They only ask that you lie convincingly.  They want to escape, for a time, just as the writer desires to provide the trapdoor through which the reader may escape.  However, shoddy research by a writer concerning his book's subject matter can destroy any chance of a reader willingly suspending his or her disbelief.  As a writer, you should be able to whisk your reader away to a faraway time and place, pluck them from the daily grind and drop them smack dab in the center of the universe you created, all without breaking a sweat or getting anyone's passport stamped.  You should own your reader...own them for as long as they hold that book aloft in their hands with their eyes glued to the page.  To possess your reader you must KNOW your material before you sit down to write.  The fantasy you save...may be your own.



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