I think everyone has heard the quote “write what you know.” It’s probably one of the first things we as writers are taught. It makes sense too. You should be knowledgeable in the things that you are writing but that doesn’t mean you can’t write what you’re not completely familiar with.
I write about vampires. I’ve never been one so I cannot write them from experience. What I can do, though, is take things and experiences I do know and translate them to the characters I create.
For instance, when writing my vampire stories, I needed to describe bloodlust. Vampires whether they are good or bad all have to deal with bloodlust, especially Alyssa from my Immortalis series.
What is bloodlust? Again, not being a vampire I have no real basis of comparison, but I do know a few other things that might come close.
I’ve struggled with quitting smoking for years (Finally quit 3 months ago…yay me!). Ok it’s not a hard-core addiction, but you have to work with what you’ve got right? Addiction is very easily comparable to bloodlust. A vampire needs blood to survive and I’m willing to bet, if they were real, missing a meal would be none too pleasant. For a smoker, that morning cigarette or that after dinner cigarette is something of a need too.
When quitting smoking and withdrawal sets in, you feel all sorts of terrible things. You become cranky, irritable, depressed, and short-tempered. You’re ready to snap on anyone who comes within ten feet of you. Then this little voice whispers in your head that having one little smoke will make it all better. Once you start thinking about having that cigarette, you can’t get it out of your head. You start searching for a long lost pack or start talking yourself into going out and buying “just one last pack.” It’s a vicious cycle that often leads to the addict returning to their addiction. Like I said, I’m no hard-core addict but you got to work with what you have. In my defense I should mention that quitting smoking has been compared to quitting heroin.
So, in taking the “write what you know” quote into consideration I likened bloodlust to that of a person who is addicted to the substance. I make the need for blood like an addiction and the lack of it something like the effects of withdrawal.
So, as you see, writing what you know doesn’t always have to mean literally, it just means take what you do know and make it work somewhere in your writing.