Write what you know is a misguided mantra for us. As a writer, you can only write what you know, the way you tell your stories can only come from what you as a person understand, and as mentioned previously, your point of view becomes the core of your story’s all important theme. If what you write does not touch your emotions, you can be sure it won’t touch the audience’s. The value of your thematic message lies in the sincerity and honesty with which you are willing to expose your personal experiences to the rest of us. Much in the way one person’s nightmare is another’s dream. Your voice as writer defines your point of view of life as it relates to what you’ve learned or experienced. So, it’s not so much write what you know, but rather, you are what you write. When we fail to fully express the depth of our point of view, our characters fall flat and remain expository -- telling not showing. Take some time to explore and acknowledge how and why the events of your life impact you and those you know, and you will begin to weave a narrative that is on a fundamental level that resonates with the emotions of a universal audience. Here’s an exercise if you want a fairly simple way to put this in place. Introduce yourself to your characters, at the very least your main character. Either write a letter as a pen pal or actually write a scene where you meet each other. How do you describe your views on life, love, horror, grief, regret (whatever the theme of your character’s story may be). As your character asks for more details, or what if, or even debates your point of view, you add a dimension to THEM that opens up your story to deeper meaning and subtext. Who knows you may even become a supporting (or antagonistic) character in your story. I’m going to explore this in a bigger blog post in the coming weeks, in the meantime, dig deep. There’s gold in them thar veins. You are what you write, so I wish you all the best.