A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the idea of “writing what you know”. In that post, I mostly argued that trying to write speculative fiction while drawing too heavily from personal experience often results in characters who feel like they’ve been recently transplanted to their surroundings, and in a narrative that ignores opportunities simply because those opportunities aren’t available in the author’s own experiences.
It’s not that the axiom is a bad one, exactly. I fully agree that a story benefits when an author has a connection to what they’re writing. An author who’s never been on a boat probably won’t write a particularly compelling maritime epic, after all. It’s just that I feel like too many writers limit themselves and their stories by never straying outside of the bounds of their own imaginings.
I also frequently get in fights with the idea that an author should try to tell an “original” story – actually, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about that, so I think I know what I’m going to be writing about next month.
This month, though, I’m lacing up my gloves and having it out with those esteemed titans, Strunk and White, and their commandment to “omit needless words”.