There's a saying out there write what you know! Yeah, it's a simple enough saying, straight forward, and pretty self explanatory. But . . .
What if I want to write about a margarita drinking gladiator named Tyrone? I don't know crap about gladiators, though I do know a thing or two about margaritas! Ay-yi-yi-yi, I am the Frito bandito!! Ooops, flashback to childhood - hate it when that happens.
What if I want to write about Elves, Dragons, Wizards, Hobgoblins or . . . Trolls??? I don't know crap about those things either . . . no matter what Robyn might say on the Troll issue!
What's an aspiring writer to do when he/she is supposed to write about what they know . . . and that know is limited to the mundane (well, sometimes, but after a few margaritas . . . ) world they live in?
Ah, dear followers, we do this neat little weaving thing . . . we take what we know and what we don't know and we toss them in a bowl, add a bit of lime juice, a splash . . . sorry, margarita recipe . . . mix them up and, well, write.
Yes, it's that simple. We write. We take the familiar (what we know) and add the unfamiliar (what we don't know, just in case any one is keeping track, because I know I'm not) and do the absolute best we can.
I mean, what did Stephanie Meyer know about vampires? J.K. Rowlings about boy wizards? Tolkien about Elves and Orcs and Dragons and one ring to rule them all? They knew the basics found in books, movies, mythology, and used their talents to make the unfamiliar familiar! Geesh, try saying that one a few times!
So, why am I writing this post? Well, I went off to the Enchanted Forest the other day . . . okay, that's what I posted on Facebook, but in actuality I was in organization mode in the house, cleaning my desk, closets, drawers, and just getting everything in tip top shape. Anyhow, I was thinking about a new story idea and was trying to figure out how to make it work, since I really didn't know that much about some of the characters that can be found in the Enchanted Forest. Yeah, I know the basics, I know what I've read, but how do I put that brief snippet of knowledge into a workable format?? Well, I take what I know - perhaps some margaritas, modern day - and work in what I don't know and just see what happens.
Yes, it's as simple as that. I can google trolls (hey, Robyn's blog came up, imagine that - ha!!) and find out all sorts of information. I can then add that information to what I already know and suddenly Tyrone (he's the margarita drinking gladiator, just in case you forgot) is having margaritas with a few trolls, and an elf at the local Mexican restaurant. Yes, it's an odd grouping, but they're getting along quite well, and there is the fact that the Troll Queen was kidnapped and if not returned to her throne by Midnight on March 12, 2015, the world as they know it will end . . .
Yes, it sounds like a strange concept, but . . . it's really not. It's all in taking the familiar and unfamiliar and merging them into something . . . brilliant. Yes, it's been done before, time and time again, there are no new ideas, just old ideas reimagined in a brilliant fashion. We can write about vampires that walk during the day in 2010 or an Elf that becomes President of the United States in 2012 or a witch that ascends the throne of Ireland in 1999 because we just take what we don't know (witches, elves, trolls, vampires, whatever) and add it to what we know, and pretty soon, the fingers are flying across the keyboard and the words are filling up the screen.
So, even if you don't know crap about vampires, witches, elves, trolls, dragons, or whatever, it doesn't meant you can't write about them. Put those characters in places you do know - today, here, now - and then, maybe during the revision stage, change up the today, here, now to something different and see what happens.
p.s. For those not in the know, Robyn and I had a comment-conversation yesterday about Trolls. She actually had the nerve to accuse me of being a Troll. I mean, seriously . . . Yeah, we had a bit of fun with each other yesterday, and thus she earned a place in Troll History! Ha!