Monday, December 2, 2013

Does Passion Trump Knowledge?

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. 
Visit Rose at: 

13 comments:

  1. Hi Rose,
    I agree, passion trumps everything. It's like the umbrella under which all the research or lack of lies. Interesting to think that we're living in times when what we know may far exceed what our forbears knew, just because of the click of a button.

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    1. And they say 'Knowledge is Power', but I can't help thinking it's what we do with the knowledge that is the real power. So philosophical at the moment. Lol.

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  2. Hi Rose,
    Like Paula, I too fully agree that passion is far greater a hook than knowledge. I find it great that all of us writers are passionate about our sphere of writing - whatever it may be. And that's because God has planted different passions within us. We are indeed fortunate to be living in this day and age where we can google anything and everything - so yes, there's nothing to stop us adding knowledge to our passions!

    We are blessed!
    Thanks for an interesting post Rose! :)

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    1. That's spot on, Anusha. Exactly what I was getting at. Goes hand in hand - but the lack of one is easily seen.

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  3. Nice Post, This is one of the best blog that I've stumbled upon this afternoon, it reminds me of one interesting blog on my reading list http://danieluyi.com/ .

    keep up the good work. I will be back to read more of your posts.

    Regards

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    1. Thanks, Daniel. Good to have you stop by.

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  4. I agree Rose. It's the same as hearing someone classically trained on the piano, but without the passion, the music lacks that special something. The heart has to be in it. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Yes - and it's a good reminder as a parent to recognize our children's talents and help them to add knowledge to their God given passions. (Just thinking about my childhood piano lessons - that pursuit did not end well. :-) )

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  5. That's an interesting question, Rose. I agree that passion trumps knowledge, but I think that's because if we're really passionate about something, we'll love doing the research and we'll want to bring it to life for the reader. It won't sound like dry research. I remember reading a novel once where there was a long boring explanation of what had to be done to clean salmonella from the air conditioning system in a large hotel. As I was reading it, I thought, 'Well this author has obviously done his research, but this is the reading equivalent of watching paint dry'. I suspect he was as bored by the topic as I was. If you love what you're researching, you'll put your heart into it and that will come out in the story. Thanks for posing the question. Got me thinking :)

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    1. I agree, Nola. If you are passionate about a subject you will enjoy learning more about it.
      Wow - Salmonella in air conditioning - I would probably have been in 'zone out' mode in 7 seconds flat.

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  6. Good contemplation, Rose. I think a reader can tell a story that lacks passion. I sometimes see evidence of this from well established authors who know their formula for producing a novel every year and that's how it reads: a well researched story that follows a formula.



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  7. Yes, I am so relieved I do not fall under that pressure, Ian. Having to churn out stories to formula must be a burden, not a pleasure.

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  8. Obviously, we need both passion and knowledge. But on the question posed, I would quote D. Elton Trueblood who wrote more than 30 Christian books (most published by Harper and Row). He said that writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration

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