Once upon a time–when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was still in high school–I had a wonderful English teacher who treated his students as peers and insisted that we all call him by his first name; his enthusiasm for literature and drama was outright contagious. He convinced me to read outside my preferred genres and he pushed me to write, write and write some more. A tremendously harsh critic, he somehow managed to be supportive even while delivering the most ruthless dissections of my prose. I was a bitter and catastrophically depressed teenager who approached each school day with apprehensive dread, but for his classes I held a genuine anticipation.
Until one lecture when he insisted that creating truly powerful fiction required that we ‘write what we know’, and all my enthusiasm burned away into ash.
At the time, I thought that he meant that our prose should be limited to our experiences and our areas of expertise. I couldn’t imagine any subject less interesting or worthy of consideration. How could the experiences of a morose, sheltered and awkward kid be relevant to the life of the inhuman denizens of a fantasy dungeon? I wanted to write about dragons and laser pistols, camaraderie and adventure!
I occasionally wish for a time-machine so that I could leap across the years and smack my younger self on the back of the head. Because the truth is…every experience is something you can learn from. I may not have ever soared above a battlefield then folded my wings to drop into combat like the gryphon protagonist from one of my short stories…but I knew the feel of wind against my face and could add that sensation to describe my gryphon’s flight. I knew what it looked like when a hawk stooped towards its prey. I knew what anger felt like, and fear, and hope, and sadness.
To ‘write what you know’ doesn’t mean to write about yourself. It means to use your personal experiences to lend the power of authenticity of your prose.
There is a secondary meaning as well, and it is one that I try to take to heart more as an adult author: Research, knowledge and the acquisition of new sensory memories can make your writing more compelling. It’s tempting to feel content that having swung a baseball bat is sufficient experience to write a scene in which an armored knight wields a mace, and it is definitely true that being able to evoke up the memory of how your grip strained or how your shoulder shook at the moment of impact is important. But spending time researching how maces were actually used historically can help create a more powerful scene. Look up how much real maces weighed. Research the kinds of wounds that a mace caused. If you can, make a mace and create new sensory memories by beating up an old tire. Interview experts and NEVER rely on anything you saw in a Hollywood blockbuster movie, because Hollywood is a lying liar who lies.
Try new things! Get your hands dirty in the garden, take a lesson in welding, bungee jump, hang-glide. Eat exotic foods and learn to mix cocktails. Live.
So, my advice to an aspiring author is this: Write what you know because you know much more than you think. And never, ever stop learning…because who knows what you’re going to want to write about tomorrow?
– David R.
Synopsis: Rage, grief and guilt have fueled Doctor Fid’s endless quest to punish the unworthy and he has left a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. For more than two decades, the sight of the villain’s powered armor has struck fear into the hearts of hero and civilian alike! But when a personal tragedy motivates Doctor Fid to investigate a crime, he uncovers a plot so heinous that even he is taken aback.
Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must race against time if he is to have any hope of confronting the approaching threat. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.
In the end, it may take a villain to save the world from those entrusted with the world’s protection.
Publisher Info: Atian Press
Page Count: 367
Genre: Sci-Fi / Contemporary Fantasy
David H. Reiss
While growing up, David was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer.
Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.
David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-seven years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.
(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)
David’s first trilogy, The Chronicles of Fid, has just recently been completed; these were his first novel-length projects but they certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!
Join the Fid’s Crusade Raffle for your chance to win a fabulous paperpack – Click Here
Fid’s Crusade Book Tour Schedule
Sunday July 14th
Shaye from A Reading Brit (blog) https://areadingbrit.co.uk/
Amanda from Amanda readsss (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcHl3RdpnJmuMP7ZZYdc-rA
Monday July 15th
Ross from Storgy (blog) https://storgy.com/
Hilary from Melted Books (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOatzzc3q5iTsRZkDPUEZig
Tuesday July 16th
Arden from the Phantom Paper (blog) https://phantompaper.wordpress.com/
Arts, Books and Other things (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrXMPBy0z1CiJZCkBOFzjQ
Wednesday July 17th
Jenny from Tecsielity (blog) https://tecsielity.wordpress.com/
Savy (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9WShNx2HsXRGjj9F593HzA
Thursday July 18th
Sarah from Murder by Tomes (blog) https://murderbytomes.wordpress.com/
Kathy (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiN4woTQzWrciAcjIKQCzHA
Friday July 19th
Yes More Blogs (blog) https://yesmoreblogs.wordpress.com/
Scott from Book Invasion (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCADGZU0eRD4SpeFyxtPBrzg
Saturday July 20th
James from the Miramichi Reader (blog) http://miramichireader.ca/
Cheyenne from Novel Insights (youtube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNzc9HZ0T0YQAUksJ7XtWOA
This is the tale of a town on the fringes of fear, of ordinary people and everyday objects transformed by terror and madness, a microcosm of the world where nothing is ever quite what it seems. This is a world where the unreal is real, where the familiar and friendly lure and deceive. On the outskirts of civilisation sits this solitary town. Home to the unhinged. Oblivion to outsiders.
Shallow Creek contains twenty-one original horror stories by a chilling cast of contemporary writers, including stories by Sarah Lotz, Richard Thomas, Adrian J Walker, and Aliya Whitely. Told through a series of interconnected narratives, Shallow Creek is an epic anthology that exposes the raw human emotion and heart-pounding thrills at the the genre’s core.
Shallow Creek Paperback
Set of Horror Bookmarks
SHALLOW CREEK EBOOK
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From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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1 comments on “GUEST POST: Write What You Know by David H. Reiss”
When David mentioned ‘Write what you know’, I assumed kind of the same as teenage David 😂 This is an awesome post, I truly enjoyed reading it. He’s explained things so well and I’m loving his down-to-earth energy. Now my interest in his books has increased!