Sunday, February 28, 2010

Is Your Story Expertise Lacking? Make It Up!

A "writer's block" moment from "For All The Marbles" might be illustrative of a problem you may have faced in the past. And, the problem was:

"I don't have experience in that area. I don't know what should/would happen there."

The issue was the main character who was being rushed to Offutt, Air Force Base, where he would be sworn in as President after a terrorist attack on Washington. I did get "stuck" here for a few weeks, and finally had lunch with a friend of mine who had recently retired from the Navy. When I told him of my predicament, he asked why that stumped me. My answer was that I had no idea how that transition would go...what would happen...what would be said.

His response really stopped me cold and opened the door to completing that section in record time. His response was, "Neither does anyone else! Just write your story. Less than 1 percent of the public will know whether it is accurate or not." Case closed.

Do you run into blocks like this where you feel your expertise is not great enough to write accurately? In fiction, we're very lucky as writers. We can just make it up. Get some facts...get some information, certainly. But, if you wait until you are an expert in every subject area before you begin writing a book or a section or a scene, then you will be waiting for a very long time. Non-fiction is different. But, in the world of fiction, you get to create your own world. Surely there is a base protocol officer out there, who if they ever happen to read my book, might laugh out loud at that particular section. However, for the vast majority of readers, they will read my "transition" section and assume that's exactly the way it happens.

This bit of advice was particularly helpful to me, and I hope it will be useful to you, if you happen to be stuck at some point in your writing just now.

Write On!

Jack Riston

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