Friday, March 4, 2011

Write What You WANT to Know

I was talking to someone the other day (a small press publisher) about my mss. She wanted to know what the complete was about, and what the one I'm working on is about. It was just a general getting-to-know-you talk, not business related at all (at least on the surface). The conversation went something like this:

Me: The first one's tagline is 'Money may not be able to buy love, but enough of it can buy a new heart.' It's about the black market for organ and tissue needs.

Pub: Interesting. And the other one?

Me: This one's tagline is 'Sometimes the dead shouldn't stay buried.' I'm writing about Human Remains Detection dogs (PC for Cadaver Dogs), and how a dead serial killer unwittingly helped to expose a current maniac.

Pub: Do you have to do much research?

Me: (I took a quick moment, but should have taken two). . . . No. I rely on personal experience.

I'm sorry, but I thought that was funny at the time. Still do.

At some point in all of our lives, we're told to write what we know. Can I just say . . . BORING? I say, write what you want to know more about. Yes, you can write what you have a passion for, but usually, that involves a soapbox, and soapboxes don't translate to fiction very well. Write what you're curious about, and do the research to make it work.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

What's yours?

CR: The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I'm inclined to agree with writing about a new and unfamiliar subject for the exploratory aspect, but writing about subjects for which you have passion can also produce excellent books. I'm drawn to people with passion.

  2. If you can write passion without the soapbox (and you, L.J., are one of the few who can) then I'm all for it. Not one of your books tells me I should believe the same way you do. You simply lay things out, and give the reader a little brain matter credit.

    Tim Hallinan has a passion for women who find themselves in desperate circumstances but a will to survive, yet he presents them with neither judgement or excuse, or even saving. I respect that. And at the same time, he doesn't diminish them as human beings.

    But there are number of authors who feel it is their mission to make all who read them jump on the bandwagon. To me, that's a problem. and often diminishes the story.

    Are we gonna have fun in Santa Fe, or what?

  3. I agree. Passion that becomes preachy can ruin a story. An author's enthusiasm for a subject can also lead to excessive detail that detracts from the story. Like everything, it's a matter of balance.

    And we are going to have a blast in Santa Fe! Left Coast Crime is getting so close.

  4. I'm not sure if you knew you were giving the "log line," also known as the "elevator pitch." I mentioned this at the Puerto Vallarta conference and nobody had heard the term before!

    The concept is, if you enter an elevator and there's an agent or publisher inside, you have one floor to pitch your book. You have to do it in one sentence. You have nailed it!

    Oh, I wish I could join you ladies in Santa Fe. Toast me with a margarita. A strong one!

  5. Thanks, Sunny. One more reason to take a nip!

  6. I agree with the writing of what you know, but sometimes you need to check what you know to make sure that it is current, things change, maybe the dog of choice for sleuthing in Virginia isn't the same in Washington state. I like that term brain credit for your readers. No one is an expert on everything--most of the characters in my stories are a whole lot smarter than me and I spend a great deal of time looking up material to make sure its accurate. Please before you tell me that birch trees are prevelant in Oklahoma, look it adelheideh