I asked my dear friend KC Burn to stop by this week before Christmas, completely forgetting that it would be Christmas. I'm so happy she could . With all the hustle and bustle of the season (no I haven't wrapped my presents yet) I'm very happy she remembered me. Today she tackles that phrase I'm sure every writer has heard before "Write what you know." Without further adieu I give you KC.
Hello – happy to be here at Chudney’s blog! Whether you’re writers or readers, it may interest you to know how much of themselves writers put into their work. You may have heard the refrain “write what you know”. It is often true, but it is frequently taken too literally.
Yes, there are a large number of books where the main character is an author. That is a classic example of “write what you know” while taking that advice very literally. But I’m pretty sure most Navy SEALS are too busy to sit around and pen romance novels, and there’d be very few serial killer books. I’m not sure there are *quite* as many around as one might think from the frequency they show up in books and on TV. Which means, in most cases, authors are writing things they don’t know.
I’m sure I’m not alone, though, in using “what I know” as one of the many ways I try to make my characters believable. One of these is neuroses. Now, as I write this on less than three hours of sleep, I start to wonder if my neuroses are some sort of symptom of my sleep deprivation!
I’m a big basket of crazy, but it actually helps me with characterization. I have a number of phobias, one of which is bad enough that I get a full fight or flight adrenaline rush. If I give a character a phobia, I’ll know darn well how they’ll react when confronted with the source of their fear.
For me, neuroses are more like quirks of personality, rather than full-blown phobias. For instance, I don’t like people walking behind me. It makes me even more uncomfortable when that person is a woman wearing high-heeled shoes. That “click, click, click” makes me incredibly tense, and I have no idea why. I do know that I go out of my way to avoid those situations.
I don’t like to have the blinds open – ever -- because I think people might be looking in. Okay, I know the “why”… sort of. I’ve never had an experience with a peeping tom, and logically… no one is looking in! But logic doesn’t play a big part.
While I may not give my characters the exact same neuroses I have, I can give them alternate quirks, I can envision how that would affect their daily lives. Even if it’s no more than a sentence or two in the finished work, tidbits like alphabetizing the canned goods, or organizing books by copyright date, can bring a character to life for a reader.
Thank you KC for coming by, and thank you for insight into a familiar piece of advice. One that can leave some of us scratching our heads. For those of you who are unfamiliar with KC's work, she writes Male/Male romantic fiction. If you're interested in her work, please visit either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.