This is the opposite of write what you know. I don’t believe writers have to write what they know. You should write about what interests you and then find out more about it. In theory, if a topic interests you it will interest others.
I have a column in Writers’ Forum and authors and their research. These authors have not just written what they know they have taken interesting themes and topics and find out more through their research. In fact, some who have initially started out writing what they know have found after starting researching around the subject they did not know as much about it as they thought.
Just like mystery writer, Helen Moss, you should research around the subject and get a feel for the current theory and practice.
When you are interested in a subject it shows in your writing. The passion and enthusiasm shines through. You might think, ‘most people are not interested in the things I am,’ but a passionate piece of writing will capture their hearts and entice them in.
Author, Nick Cook, is not a quantum physicists but it is a subject he is fascinated with. For his trilogy he used Twitter to find out the information he required to make his story believable and authentic.
“I realised I needed to find out more about tornadoes and storm chasing to write my book. This was key… but how do you get in contact with a real expert dealing with an area that you are writing about? I tried all sorts of things, but was getting nowhere fast. What finally worked was sending out a call for help via social media, namely Twitter. Before long someone tweeted back to tell me there was this man that I should really talk to if I wanted to learn more about the storm chasing world. A few emails later Jesse agreed to do an interview with me. ” Nick Cook
I get asked to write to commission about many subjects that I previously have very little knowledge about such as information on body technology for the Children’s Encyclopedia of Technology (co-written with Alex Woolf). In this case, specifically RFID chips, which are like business cards inserted under the skin. They can transfer contact details to smartphones and provide links to complex medical data. And Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), which exploits bacteria, in order to make changes to DNA and possibly cure genetic diseases.
I also wrote in-depth information about ten scientists and ten great inventors for my graphic novels Heroes of Science which includes the stories of Nicolaus Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and Heroes of Discovery, which includes the stories of Ada Lovelace, Nikola Tesla, Tim Berners-Lee and Elon Musk.
Through extensive research I manage to write these books and I am very proud of them. I retain the knowledge for a limited time but then I seem to have a mind wipe to make way for any new information I need to know for my next book.
The message of this blog post today is if you are stuck for ideas think what you are interested in even if you don’t know anything about it and write about that.