I have always thought that, as an author, it is wise to ‘write what you know’. However, in a world where information is literally at our fingertips, an author can write on any topic they choose. Research is simply a Google search away.
Lately I have been contemplating the value of writing from experience versus writing from research. Being a contemporary fiction writer, I have the advantage of both modern setting and imagination, so a lot of my personal experiences and feelings are easily incorporated onto the pages of my work. These advantages aside, it is still fair to say that there has been an element of my writing that has come from research. For instance, in my work there are places I have written about that I haven’t visited personally. I wonder - without that personal experience, does that make them sound less authentic to the reader?
Historical writers rely heavily on research for setting and story-line. Having to set a story in an era they haven’t lived in is a task that so many authors do well. Although, I have also read some historical novels where, although clearly well researched, the story falls flat and lacks heart.
After much contemplation on this subject, I have come to the conclusion that it is a good thing to write what you know, but it doesn't matter how much personal experience you have incorporated, or the amount of highly tuned research you have done, nothing will make up for the lack of passion in an author’s work. So, does passion trump knowledge?
This leads me to another wonderful saying: ‘write what you love’.
What do you think? Is passion for what you write more important than personal experience? When research is a necessity, will no amount of it make up for a lack of passion?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Rose Dee is the author of the 'Resolution' series and co-author of The Greenfield Legacy.
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