Thursday, June 07, 2012

WRITE WHAT YOU (DON'T) KNOW

Current Project: My LEGACY series
Status: Edits to book #6
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel


I am one of those writers forever delving into things I know little about. 

I may start out with good intentions: I know dogs. I know small towns. I know dysfunctional families. I know government bureaucracies and plants and--well, there are many other topics and careers I could stick with that I know. 

But I'm innately curious. I want to know about lots of "stuff." And sometimes a character comes up with a hobby or a childhood interest or a career that's just too perfect not to use. 

What's a writer to do but learn all she can about that topic or experience or career? 

In-person research is great--like visiting a certain city. Or getting a taste of a cop's life by attending the Citizen's Police Academy and going through some of the same training scenarios used for police officers.

However, what if you can't or don't want to experience something? The heroine of book six of my LEGACY series is burned in a fire. I don't want to personally experience that. 

I had already interviewed someone who was a burn survivor many months ago. However, when I started edits to book #6 this week, as usual I wanted more in-depth emotions and details. So I turned to what has become one of my favorite research avenues--the Internet. 

Snicker if you want to, but I found stories from burn survivors that gave personal details I want to add depth to my stories. I don't want gory stuff, but I do want readers to live in my character's skin while she drifts in and out of consciousness from painkillers; while scabs form and new skin emerges from the itchiness of healing. 

So tonight I've been reading personal accounts from burn survivors, and I'm about to start watching videos of firefighters battling blazes. All from the grateful safety of my computer chair. 

Do you write what you don't know? If so, what are some of your favorite ways to get into your character's skin/mind/emotions when you haven't had their particular experiences?

No comments: