Write/Know What You Know/Write

I went to the beach last week, so I didn’t make a blog post. I’m making up for that now.

My trip last week was the first time I’d been to the beach in fifteen years or so. I had never forgotten the breeze, the salty smell of sand and ocean spray. It was wonderful to visit again. Unfortunately though…

I had forgotten everything else.

The way the sand shifted out from under my feet, making it difficult to run. The blistering feeling of sunburn. The way the wet sand caked on my body in little tan wart-like protrusions. The clearness of the water, and the sheer drops off of sand bars. The tiny birds that sprinted through the sands, dodging the surf and pecking for food. And so on, and so forth…

As I spent my time on the beach, new words and phrases occurred to me as I enjoyed the different sensations. I was reminded what the beach was like, and how it felt to experience it. And now I can see something I was lacking.

I recently wrote a scene on a beach into a book. It was lacking something that I discovered anew this week. The feeling of the beach.

Everyone says you should write what you know. I’ll turn it around. You should also strive to know what you write.
Now that I know the feel of the beach, I can write it into that scene. I want people to feel the waves, to see the sun setting behind the coast. I want my characters to struggle while walking, unable to find solid footing in the loose sand, rough with shells and sand dollars.

Experience what your characters experience, and pay attention. You must be able to pass this experience to your readers. Write what you know, know what you write.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to shoot myself for an injury in my book. Perhaps shooting a gun would be nice, but self-harm is too far. And I can’t afford a trip to Mt. Everest, or the training needed to climb it.

That’s where research comes in. It’s more useful for this than one might think. Get personal accounts, and learn the words used to describe what you haven’t experienced. Retell the feelings that others passed to you.

Write what you know, know what you write.

See you around!

-Kyle Adams

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