Writing from What You Know – and FWT? Results!

Before we get into the headline act, a quick catch up for Fat Woman Thinning? my 52 week odyssey to lose weight after the menopause using a quick resistance weights programme.  The results are in for last week…. (here you may enter one of those awful pauses that, on TV, they seem to think creates tension and excitement – but really just annoys (or is this only me?) It was good to see on BBC Young Musician of the Year that they did no such thing and announced the winner immediately after the saying ‘the winner is  🙂  Ok, rant over

  Now, results: another one pound down! Half an inch off relaxed waist measurement, but no change on the pulled-in tight measurement. Am I pleased – Yes, I am!  More thoughts and details on the FWT? drop down for week 19.

Kindle to Win

And secondly, my Win a Kindle Draw (or 1 of 4 other prizes) is hotting up.. there are now only 225 places left – so make sure you have yours and make sure everyone you know has heard of it so they have a chance to enter too! It’s free and very easy to enter, just an email sign-up to this blog gets you in, more details from the link http://annfoweraker.com/2012/your-chance-to-win-a-kindle/

Writing from What You Know

As you will know I also write novels, and occasionally I get asked for tips from new writers or those thinking of writing so now and again I do a post on writing.  Now, one of the things you are most frequently told as a new writer is to ‘write from what you know’.

Now, I always thought this to be a strange thing to suggest –  after all most of what the average person, let alone the average author, knows is probably pretty ordinary and dull.

However, after writing for many years, I think I now have a better understanding of this stricture and for any budding writers I’ll share this little insight. It’s all to do with using things, places, feelings, you already know within your story so you do not have to re-invent the wheel world. (Yes, even when you are inventing new worlds – some of the most famous, Tolkien for example, use ancient stories, lore and familiar scenery to develop their new worlds)

Let’s just look at one of my novels as an example: In Nothing Ever Happens here, my main female character, Jo,  is a teacher (This is obviously writing from what I knew – having been a teacher)

She works in a school in London, a primary school. Using my memory I can see, feel, taste even, the primary school in the Fulham road where I did my very first teaching practice. ( again – drawing on something I knew)

What else is there in Nothing Ever Happens Here that comes from what I knew? Certainly not the violence and the drugs smuggling – not personally, but like anyone, particularly any author, I read a lot and I read reports of criminal acts as part of my research.

Once my Jo and her son are down in Cornwall I don’t have to invent the scenery, I take it from what is there – what I know – and the scenery and the lay of the land does play quite a big part in this story. Especially the smugglers’ caves, the secluded coves and the countryside.

On her holiday (to escape their troubles in London) Jo stays at a chalet on a small farm which has goats, chickens and geese, all of which we have kept on our own smallholding and Rick, my other main protagonist, works out of the main police station in Plymouth, a city where I used to live and frequently visit.

Having all this important background material and central locations already in my head frees up my imagination so that I can pursue the rest of the story, seeing it happen like watching a film, getting the words down to describe my personal movie to you the reader, hoping to recreate what I see and hear … which, in this case, became the novel ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ …. an ironic title that heads-up a story, which you may have guessed, is anything but ordinary and dull.

Are you a new writer  … or thinking you’d like to write one day? What things, that you have been told about how to write a novel, just confuse you, which are useful and what hints would help you? Do share and let me know, I love to hear your comments!

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4 thoughts on “Writing from What You Know – and FWT? Results!

  1. What a very interesting post, great to hear about the process behind the novel, and “Nothing Ever Happens Here” was a very, very gripping read. It is also a slight relief to hear that not all of the storyline was from personal experience, didn’t like to think I was supporting a drug smuggler, so thanks for clearing that up! LOL! Oh, and well done on the FWT front too x

  2. Thank you Krissi, and thank you for your comments about how you enjoyed reading Nothing Ever Happens Here.
    ‘Writing from what you know’, once you understand it, is a good example of how getting started on your writing can be made that bit easier.
    Thanks for the FWT? cheering!! yay!!

  3. I simply couldn’t have written many of my short stories & novels back when I was in my 20’s. I hadn’t lived enough to know what I was talking about. At 50, I have so much more to pull from, and while I still need to do research, there’s a baseline of understanding that you only get by hanging around this ol’ world for a while.
    😉

  4. Hi Liv! Oh you are SO right! You do need to have lived and learnt a bit to hit the right notes (and sometimes to draw upon them to extrapolate intense emotion or reactions when we put our characters in extreme circumstances) I didn’t even touch upon the emotional and experiential landscape in this, that, I think, will need a whole separate blog!

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