Writing What You Somewhat Know by Eden Winters
Posted by H.A Caine
Someone once said, “Write what you know,” to which most authors of my acquaintance say, “Hogwash!” or worse.
But… why not write what you know? Or rather, expound on something you know a little about.
At my job, I read a trade magazine’s article about pharmaceutical crimes (of which there are many). Because I found the article interesting, and the topic fascinating, before I knew it I’d done quite a bit of research. Hmm… If I found the topic interesting, maybe others would too.
And so Diversion was born, a story about a man who once played fast and loose with the law as a trafficker dealing in prescription drugs, who’s working off his sentence by sharing his criminal knowledge with the good guys. While the story is fictional, many of the situations are very, very real, such as pill mills, drug diversion, shipment hijackings, and drug shortages. In some instances, I had to apply truth with a light hand—some facts are, quite frankly, unbelievable, even to someone who deals with them daily.
The research provided the added benefit of teaching me more about my job, and stories I read on my off hours keep me up to date and informed in the office. Now, I don’t work for a narcotics bureau, and I’m not in the business of crime fighting, but by picking up a familiar thread and following it to the source, I discovered a whole new world to write about.
Are you a teacher? What if you found a textbook, and inside you found these scrawled words: “Help me!” Your education background, knowing the inner workings of the school system, could prove a valuable starting point. How did the message get in the book? Who wrote it? Why do they need help? Where is the book from? And so on.
I have friends from a variety of jobs, and all have amusing tales of their employment, so although I’m in wholehearted agreement that you don’t have to write what you know, I say, why not start there?