Friday, August 19, 2011

They say you should write what you know, but my day job isn’t interesting, so who would want to read about it?

I have heard this statement many times, at conferences, on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and speaking with aspiring writers and even readers who want to dip their toe in the writing world.

What may seem mundane and uninteresting in our real lives can be transformed into compelling characters and a page turning storyline. One can do this by exaggerating what they do know into a bigger than life story. For example: Let's say in real life, an office clerk or administrative assistant may feel that what she knows about her career wouldn't make for a gripping read. However, as a writer if she can take what she knows and assign the clerical job to a lead character and giving it an intriguing twist--as in the clerk in her book is unknowingly working for a crime boss. Imagine the possibilities where the writer could take this character.

How about a librarian who lives alone and really doesn't have a lot of adventure in her life, and hasn't really done anything spectacular other than taking a Japanese linguistic night class. This librarian goes to the bank for a routine deposit, and suddenly the bank is held up, and she is a victim of a hostage situation. The bank robbers are speaking Japanese. She can understand what they are saying and what they are planning. Will she let them know she can understand them? Will that help the situation or make it worse? Again, the possibilities are endless.

Are you a hair stylist? How about a hair stylist whose has someone come in to her shop for a cut and dye job, and this person is on America’s most wanted or a famous celebrity?

Taking ordinary things in life things that a writer may perceive as being uninteresting can be turned into a wonderful work of fiction. It's all about taking ordinary characters and putting them in extraordinary situations.

Happy creating and writing!

About Selena Robins
Witty, humorous, suspenseful, sexy--words used to describe Selena’s writing style. A chocolate guru, in love with her husband, family, friends, books & red wine, she dances with her dog, sings into her hairbrush & writes in her PJ's.

Selena is the author of the contemporary romance, What A Girl Wants, paranormal romantic comedy, Sabrina's Destiny, Romantic Comedy, Short Story, Tempted by an Angel, and a children's novella, Pippy's Wish.

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jean hart stewart said...

Great blog... most of our characters have imaginary traits after all that make them special. Love the idea of taking ordinary people and giving them a twist.

Tina Donahue said...

Great advice, Selena. The character's outer life doesn't have to be ultra fascinating as long as their inner life is rich and we're privvy to their thoughts.

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hey Selena,
Really good points on how to take ordinary situations and careers and make fantastic twists for a story. I like!

Selena Robins said...

Thanks for dropping by, Jean, Tina and Denise. I always think of the movie Romancing the Stone, a shy, romance writer who is taken out of her ordinary world and plunked into adventure.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Hey Selena. I think it was Hemmingway who said "write what you know." Well, many of us write what we know because we researched it. LOL In any case, quite a delightful blog. I wish you all the best.

Fiona McGier said...

Since I'm stuck working at "bread money" jobs instead of my "passion" which is teaching, even I don't find my jobs interesting! I prefer to write about people who have been able to combine their passion with a way to make a living...a dream we all have.
Interesting blog and some funny twists.

Kathy Otten said...

I like the idea of the Japanese bank robbers and the librarian. Maybe your next book??? Like the fresh twist on the ordinary.

Selena Robins said...

@Sarah, Thanks for dropping by.

Thank goodness for the Internet when it comes to research, it does comes in handy, especially when we're writing about spy's, etc, however, I still think we put what we know, even in these fictional occupations, such as our emotions. We all know what it's like to be sad, happy, in love, broken hearted, humorous, etc.

Selena Robins said...

Hi, Fiona, thanks for stopping by. Having a passion for anything is ultra important, and that's one thing I instill in my characters. They have to have a passion for something, be it their career, cooking, chocolate, or a pet. It doesn't matter what it is, but a character with passion is a character we can relate to. I also like to assign a passion to my villians.

Selena Robins said...

Hi, Kathy, thanks for dropping in and chatting with us. One of the main reasons I picked this topic, is because so many aspiring writers have said to me that they are not comfortable writing about careers aren't familiar with, even with research.

Any writer can add a twist to any career. Glad you liked the Japanese speaking Librarian, perhaps it could be a book of mine, once I finish my other works in progress. LOL