Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Write What You Know

I don't mean, "I've been skydiving, so I'm going to have my character go skydiving." Not like that.

My friend, Hannah, had an interesting post on her blog yesterday. You can read it here, but she basically talks about how what's being published today doesn't necessarily reflect what teenagers are actually going through (Hannah, if you're reading this and I totally got that summary wrong, feel free to slap me).

I mean, I'm sure I'm not the first to say: who the heck falls in love with just one look? Or: why are all these girls so obsessed with guys? And that second comment actually applies to my real life, because there's me, who's trying to survive college and somehow find time for writing, and then there's everybody else who thinks that having a boyfriend is the highest priority.

Props to them, sure.

So what do I mean by "Write What You Know"?

I mean that you need to look inside yourself. What do you care about, what do you fear? As Hannah wrote:

"Teens are more interested in politics than dying their hair different colors. Teens want to read about someone who doesn't just go with the flow of every situation they're in. Teens want readers who ask the same questions they do when faced with adulthood:
Where am I going?"

 Consider the world that teenagers (such as myself) are growing up in today. To put it extremely simply, the world is a mess. My own hometown and home-city tend to be a mess. A few weeks ago I saw pictures of a protest that resembled more of a futuristic, dystopic movie set than the city where a lot of people I know are attending college. There's riots, bombings, shootings, wars, revolutions. The more people try to fix things, the worse they get.

It's a prevalent theme in many dystopian novels these days, too. Take Divergent: a world was created where everybody has a faction, a virtue, that they are supposed to uphold. And yet, this society was so fragile and weak that it didn't take much to bring it crashing down.

This is the world we, today, are faced with.

So why not write about it? Write about how stress and pressure collide to destroy a person. Write about how that strive to be perfect strips people of their compassion. Write about how you can't really trust anybody these days, no matter how much you'd like to.

Take those feelings that you have, from the world you were given, and create something out of it.



  1. Rae, I love your response to my post.

    And you nailed the summary. I just took forever to get my original post across. And it's more on how teens think differently than the writers who are getting published today. We have different concerns, which is why certain novels that address those concerns will probably sell better than the ones that don't. Because we're confused about how we're going to handle things, so some ideas would be nice. :P

    And until we get the publishers to realize that, nothing will change. But as a generation we totally outnumber all of the baby boomers before us, and have the power to make that sort of thing happen. We just have to ban together over it. Inform the publishers about what we want to read.Because really, we control the markets. Not them.

    1. You literally said everything. I totally agree that the more of us that write about what concerns us, today, the more of our writing will get out there. Publishers will get there, eventually. They'll have to. They'll have so many manuscripts that start addressing different things that they'll be forced to take a good look at them and figure out how our culture is changing, and how they have to change with it.