Writing what you know is good standard advice for writers but what exactly does it mean? I'm not denying autobiographies are a valid genre but they wouldn’t satisfy every reader. In fact, if writers only wrote what they knew, there would be no science-fiction or fantasy, and writing a crime or spy novel might result in your removal from mainstream society. 

However, there are some writers, maybe an ex-policeman turned crime writer, who have a working knowledge of their chosen genre (although I’m sure Ian Flemming’s intimacy with  the undercover world of spies was nothing like James Bond’s), but the majority of writers’ have no more specialist expertise than anyone else - when it's needed, we do research.

Writing is an activity where imagination and observation connect seamlessly to create an invented world. When a writer describes the sensory details of smell, sight, sound, touch and taste, they use these elements to give authenticity to their stories.  Writers need to have a heightened awareness of what is around them, as well as the ability to convey those features in such a way that readers see them anew.

Another function of details is to create the sense of habitual time. Daily travel, meals, getting up and going to bed, may be unexciting minutiae by themselves, but they add a sense of reality to a world that appears to exist before and after the reader has finished the book.

The ability to write what we know originates with our observational skills, and the more fully we can be aware of the wealth of detail available in our lives,  the more we are able to enrich readers’ experiences. 

Writing Update: Agony and Ecstasy

I hope I’m forgiven my ignorance of those online editing tools, Pro Write and Auto Crit. However, that is now rectified and I'm working on the premise that the more mistakes, of any kind, which I can remove before investing in a professional editor, the better. 

First though there’s the agony. The list of mistakes brought up by these programs of what needs to be corrected is painful as I acknowledge how many errors I actually make. Overused words and frequently repeated phrases seem to be the main culprits – I accept this – but this isn’t the first edit – I lost count of which edit I’m on some time ago.

And here’s where it gets interesting. This list is stimulating an obsessive compulsive streak I wasn’t aware I possessed. If I could, I wouldn’t move until every single item is sorted. Now you don’t know the length of the list, but it is physically impossible to stay sitting for the length of time required, and taking regular breaks makes precious little difference.

This has moved my scheduled deadline back. There’s no way I will finish this edit by the end of July as I’ve a few commitments coming up which will limit my progress in the next month. So my journey continues and although I'm currently climbing an Everest, the scenery is extraordinary!

I apologise if I’ve not been active in responding to the many great articles posted online by other bloggers, but my novel is ruthless in demanding attention and I have to keep my baby happy!

Today’s Haiku

Fat yellow moon high
above sleep darkened kingdom
sees all - Heaven’s eye

Useful Links: 

If you have any questions you think I can help with, then please go to Adrianna’s great website at:
http://adriannajoleigh.com/ where you will find a Writers Surgery page http://bit.ly/11dD1zQ or email me at: writerssurgery@gmail.com


Reading Recommendations: 

http://amzn.to/18SbSaG  Gold Dragon Haiku - my first attempt at publishing poetry!

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku.com

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.


  1. If it's any consolation, I had to reread The Dimensional Constant 13 times before it was ready. And I still found spelling errors in that book after it was sent to publish. It's good that you found them and that you're correcting them. No need to rush.

    P.S. You're right, Flemming differed from Bond. Arguably, he was more bad ass!

    P.P.S If you haven't, watch the movie called the agony and the ecstasy. An amazing movie about Michelangelo.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Peter, and, yes, re editing, I'm taking it slow and steady with the attitude that if the end result improves, then it has to be done. I've not seen the Michelangelo film but I'll sure look out for it!


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