Monday, 4 May 2015

Writing What You Know

with guest blogger Nicole Hurley-Moore


Ever had your heart broken or done something so embarrassing you wished that the ground would open up and swallow you whole? Have you been in love or ridiculed or a bit naughty? What about facing a fear, finally achieving something you’ve worked hard towards or falling for the wrong guy... twice? If the answer is ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions (or all of them in my case but we just won’t go there) – use it in your writing.

We’ve all been told to write what you know and when I first started writing I thought I knew what that meant; but I was wrong. I thought it was all about the research, places, time period and facts. If I had the facts, the plot and the characters developing throughout the story and jumping through all their particular hoops, then everything was perfect – wasn’t it? And the short answer was – no, it wasn’t because the essence was missing. My hero and heroine were flat because I just wasn’t feeling it and that was the problem.

Write what you know means so much more. Yes, we need the research and the facts but you also have to incorporate – well, you. Sure, we have shared experiences like falling in love, facing grief or trying to step up during a crisis. But the way you deal or feel about them is unique to you. What I mean is not everyone reacts the same way. For example at a funeral some people are shattered, others silent and unbending, some laugh nervously while another may make lame jokes at inappropriate times. This doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving, they’re just handling it in their own way (that is all except for Uncle Bob who’s just a jerk).

You have to do more than just write the story, you have to feel it. However it’s not just having empathy for your characters; it’s sharing with them your authentic feelings. Is this wrapped up in ‘your voice’? Um... I guess it kind of is.

So when writing a scene, remember to draw on a similar situation or feeling that you’ve experienced. Maybe none of us have ever fought a duel at dawn or faced down an enemy with sword in hand, but at one time or another we’ve been scared, desperate, forced into something we didn’t want to do or sacrificed something for another person (or maybe even taken the odd fencing lesson).

Mix the experience, physical reaction and the research and your story instantly gains depth.

We create and manipulate our characters to tell the story from our heart so don’t sell it short. We want our readers to connect with our characters but firstly we must connect with them ourselves. Remember how it feels to be crazy in love, jealous, betrayed, or how you felt when you kissed for the first time, and then give your characters that little bit of yourself.
Nicóle x

Image courtesy of polyvore.com
Tell us how you've used 'what you know' in your writing or how you imagine the writer used what they know in a book and you will go into a draw to win a signed copy of McKellan's Run by Nicole Hurley-Moore!!!

Love to Love My family and my obsession with antique jewellery

Love to Laugh – At my family’s odd sense of humour and their quest to get me to laugh at the worst possible time.

image courtesy of sppiblog.org
Love to Learn – Anything I can on medieval history.












McKellan's Run available now! Published by Allen and Unwin.

McKellan’s RunSometimes you have to give love a second chance...

Visit Nicole's website for more at:  www.nicolehurley-moore.com.




18 comments:

  1. I have been reading a bit of 'Southern American' literature lately (yes, I will get back to romance soon!), and it seems astonishing how much of their writing is also semi-biographical. The 'writing what you know' scenario certainly brings a ring of authenticity to the writing, and helps to make the reader at ease, comfortable with 'familiar' surroundings as the story unfolds. Great advice. Congratulations on your new release, Nicole, it looks amazing.

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    1. I've read a bit of Southern American lit too but until you mentioned it, I hadn't thought about the authors putting themselves into it...even the ones in first person. But they must-I mean the richness of the settings alone make me believe they've at least been there and most probably lived in those locals. The first book to come to mind is The Garden of Good and Evil...what about that setting!!! The author HAD to have lived there, experienced the culture ...or perhaps he put his experiences of home into the setting and that's why I believe it.

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  2. Hi, Nicole Hurley-Moore! Congrats on your recent release McKellan's Run!

    I'm in the midst of re-writes on my historical romance. For all intents and purposes this manuscript was completed years ago. It had all the right stuff in all the right places. It was technically correct but it lacked something. It lacked sparkle, pizzazz, zing until...I rewrote it, putting a bit of myself (my personal character flaw) into the heroine. This manuscript now has that sparkle, pizzazz, and zing!!

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    1. That's fantastic Dee! Putting that little bit of yourself in can not only make your manuscript sparkle but it can also make your characters more relatable. :D

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  3. Hi Nicole. Congratulations on the release of McKellan's run. I've sat here for a few moments trying to think what I put of myself in my books and I would have to say besides my general life lessons it would be a sense of humour. I enjoy witty banter and and clever quips and try to incorporate that into my writing. I know that humour can be a double edged sword when communicating and can be heart-warming and heart-breaking, up-lifting and also devastating.

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    1. Thanks Cassandra. I love witty banter as well. As you say, it can really uplift a story and make it sparkle. :)

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  4. Hi Nicole. Great post. Writing with emotion in the story makes it so much more real to the reader. You mention death and funerals. When my Dad died writing was my outlet in my grief. My imagination of course went to sad scenarios and that's what I wrote and emotions flowed making the scenes very real. Emotion is very important when writing.

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    1. Hi Enisa, sorry about your dad. I think you're right, emotion can give a deeper connection with the reader. I suppose as some things are universally felt, such as love, hate, sadness etc. many of us can relate on some level. :)

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  5. Hi, Nicole! Marilyn is overseas and having trouble with her internet connection but she asked that I post this comment for her...

    Great post, Nicole. I think authenticity in emotion is the best way to capture readers because it creates that all-important emotional punch. The best way to do that is, of course, by being as honest as we can when writing emotional scenes. When I find myself laughing or with tears in my eyes as I write because I'm writing from my personal experiences, I must be doing something right, right? :)
    Marilyn

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  6. Absolutely Marilyn! Thanks for the comment and I hope you're having a great time overseas. :) Thanks for posting, Dee. :)

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  7. This is a great post! Congratulations on your new release! I love medieval history, too. I put a lot of myself into my writing, especially bad experiences like terrible jobs! It's nice to use the bad things for something positive. It sounds like you really have! I'm very much looking forward to reading this! :-)

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    1. Jessica Cale-I love that you put a positive spin on something so negative as work stress! That's just awesome!

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    2. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jessica. Some of you may not know that Jessica writes sumptuous historical romances. Both her titles - Tyburn and Virtue's Lady are on the top of my tbr pile. :D

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    3. Thank you both so much! Dee, it had to be worth something, right? LOL

      Nicole, McKellan's Run is at the top of mine! This looks sooooo good! I hope it sells like crazy! :)

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    4. Awesome! Looks like I have some book buying to do later today...buy Jessica Cale's Tyburn and Virtue's Lady.

      Thanks for the heads up Nicole Hurley-Moore (author of McKellan's Run)!!!

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    5. Aw, thanks Jessica! x

      No worries, Dee. :D

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