‘Write What You Know’ a Birdie Tweeted

Thought-provoking comments I gleaned from the writerati (i.e., those who believe they know more than the rest of us) . . .

‘Write What You Know’ — Helpful Advice or Idle Cliché?

Most writers have, for reasons of diffidence, or snobbery, or fear of exposure . . . unconsciously censored themselves and thrown out the wheat, mistaking it for nonliterary chaff.

Don’t Write What You Know
Why fiction’s narrative and emotional integrity will always transcend the literal truth

For me, it’s the difference between fiction that matters only to those who know the author and fiction that, well, matters.

Write What You Know, Or Not.

Use what you know to guide you towards what you don’t, and no one will ask too many questions about it later.

Write What You Like: Why “Write What You Know” Is Bad Advice

“Write what you know” is one of the cardinal rules of writing, a tip that’s as widely quoted as “I before E, except after C.” And just like that bit of spelling advice, it’s more often wrong than right.

Should We Write What We Know?

[T]he idea is to investigate the subject till you can write about it with complete confidence and authority. Being a serial expert is actually one of the cool things about the very enterprise of writing: You learn ’em and leave ’em.

And I leave you with these gems:

Bad books on writing and thoughtless English professors solemnly tell beginners to ‘Write What You Know’, which explains why so many mediocre novels are about English professors contemplating adultery.

—Joe Haldeman, American sci-fi writer

[W]rite what you know will always be excellent advice to those who ought not to write at all.

—Gore Vidal, in Thomas Love Peacock: The Novel of Ideas

Happy writing . . .


PS: I became intrigued with this topic after an unthinking person posted on Facebook:  as Mark Twain said – “write what you know about”  — and I questioned whether Twain ever said that. I’m still working on the latter — other than I am certain he would not have ended the statement with “about” — yet another example why one should not end a sentence with an adverb.   ;-)

About Polishing Your Prose

Larry M Edwards is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, editor and publishing consultant. He is the author of three books, and has edited dozens of nonfiction and fiction book manuscripts. Under Wigeon Publishing, he has produced six books. As author, "Dare I Call It Murder? A Memoir of Violent Loss" won First Place in the San Diego Book Awards in 2012 (unpublished memoir) and 2014, Best Published Memoir. The book has also been nominated for a number of awards, including: Pulitzer Prize, Benjamin Franklin Award, Washington State Book Award, and One Book, One San Diego. As Editor, "Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources" won the Gold Award in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, Self-Help. For a sample edit and cost estimate, contact Larry: larry [at] larryedwards [dot] com -- www.larryedwards.com -- www.dareicallitmurder.com -- www.larryedwards.com/wigeonpublishing/
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