1-write what you know
2-read so you know
3-make up what you know
I’ve written 14 books and on number 15. I’ve written in many different genres-I don’t stick to one all the time. Why? Because I can. How do I write in different genres? I just do.
Yes, I’m sure that looks frustrating for you die-hard one genre and one only writers, but my mind races a mile a minute and in different, wildly different genres at that. Noir, Cozy, Science Fiction, Biography, Cookbook, Dream, Mythology and so forth. Book ideas come to me all the time so I’ll scramble to open a google docs page and rush the idea down. How do I buckle down and write? See my rules.
- Write what you know. You’ve had several decades of living to draw from, so you start there. There are ideas from your home life, work life and entertainment life. Sure you’ve probably never been on the lam. hopping from country to country, but you have an idea how it would feel from rushing from one errand to another. You’ve been to high school, maybe college and a graduate program–you’ve read and studied different areas, so you can draw from that. You’ve met people from wildly different areas in life, you can draw from that.
- Read so you know. Read all kinds of authors in your genre. Read authors outside your genre and areas of interest. Read great authors, mediocre authors and really-really terrible authors. You’ll gain perspective on how to craft a sentence, how to mold a paragraph and how to contract a chapter. You’ll see what works for your interest, in what kind of writing holds your interest and what kind of writing makes you suddenly remember you have to take out that molding, dripping bag of garbage you’ve avoided for weeks. You know what I mean.
- Make up what you know. Don’t know anything about what detectives go through in a day? Put yourself in their shoes. You know what it feels like to be frustrated when trying to complete a simple task, like going to the DMV or the courthouse to file something. There’s always someone in your way, a ridiculous piece of paper the lord-like clerk demands you have, a forgotten splash of egg yolk on your shirt that makes people second guess your professionalism. Don’t know how subspace engines would work? You’ve probably watched hundreds of hours of science fiction shows, seen science headlines of a new type of metal, overheard conversations about engine repairs.
My point is, you have a plethora of ideas to draw up on for creating background, scenery, time and place in your books, novels and short stories.