Write what you don’t know

I am sick and tired of all the advice about writing what you know. That’s true only to a point. If people stuck to that advice literally, books would be boring as hell. I mean, isn’t the whole point of research to find out about the things you don’t know?

It’s true that people who have worked in the CIA, or in law enforcement write better thrillers because they have intimate knowledge of the field that can make their stories seem quite real, but does that mean a librarian who is really interested in  espionage shouldn’t attempt it? If she’s willing to do the research, why not? And in a time when so much information is available on so many different subjects, why wouldn’t someone take advantage of that opportunity? Think of all the writers who write historical fiction and make it seem effortlessly real. They live in modern times. How did they know about the past so well? Research!

So please, let’s dispense with the cliched writer’s advice. Tell people what they really need to know: be passionate; push yourself; research; rewrite. That’s the important stuff.