Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Write What You Like

It may seem silly to tell someone to write about something that they like yet there are people out there who will write about something because they think it will sell or make money even though it's not something they are really interested in.  To write a good story and have it be convincing and well done, you need to at least enjoy the subject matter.  Personally I could never write a novel about politics since I have little interest in politics and I don't understand it very well.  It's like writing about Shakespeare when you don't get what it's trying to say.

Once you know what you find interesting, you have to stop and think about the subject and whether or not you can write about it.  Just because I find biographies of famous people interesting, I would never be able to write about it.  I'm personally better at fiction than fact.  Writing a biography would entail a lot of research and examination of the person and what they did in their lives.  I like reading about them but have no patience to explore their lives and then detail and chronicle it in a book. 

It can be frustrating for someone who thinks that they want to write because it sounds interesting and fun and then decide on a whim to write the next great American novel.  You really have to understand who you are and what kind of personality and imagination you have.  Are you a serious person?  Are you a sarcastic person?  Can you picture things in your mind with great detail?  Can you create interesting dialogue between characters?  Odds are if you are a very serious person, you aren't going to write a satire or a comedy, unless it's a dry humor.  You need to play to your strengths and talents.

Personally I like to see how characters relate to each other and the world around them.  I enjoy writing fiction because I have total control over the environment.  I also tend to fall into the horror/fantasy category because that's the way my mind works.  I have a dark humor and use sarcasm to get through my day so when I combine all of these things I end up writing about characters who are dark and mean and sometimes hurt each other, yet I also have a softer side that ultimately wants a happy resolution, at least until they get into the next situation.  I like taking a character and watch them progress throughout the story and see what happens to them in the end.  I want to see if they rise to the occasion and become a better person or if they take the dark path and end up evil.  That is what I find interesting, so I write about it.

When I was younger I used to write stories because I was told to.  They would give us a starting sentence and we had to complete the story.  Example....Peter's father gave him a new red ball which made Peter very happy...complete the story.  While most kids would write about how much Peter loved the ball and how grateful he was that his father bought it for him. I would have taken a different route.  I would have said that Peter's father bought him the ball as a way to bribe his son into forgiving him for not showing up the week before when he promised that he would come.  Instead of showing up to play with Peter, he spent the day with his other family and other children and didn't have time to pick Peter up.  So the ball was met as a tool for forgiveness which Peter bought hook, line and sinker since he seemed to love the ball and it made him happy.  Later Peter would grow to hate the ball since it represented his father's love for his other family and it would because a means for Peter to forgive his father without having ever received a true apology from him.  Peter would spend a lot of time and money in therapy because of it.

As you can see my interpretation of the story would be very different given who I am and my experiences.  I would have also felt better writing the story.  It appealed to me to write it that way and I would have felt a kinship with Peter for his struggles.  I took a simple character, created an emotional response to something banal and put thought and feeling into the story.  People may not like the story, or they may relate to it, but either way I was passionate about the story because I allowed what I think, feel and know to temper the story.  I could have said that Peter loved his father and learned to play baseball because of it, but I would have found nothing fascinating about the story and it would have been boring since I care little for baseball. 

When you write about something, you need to express something beyond the words and sentences written on the page.  You need to breathe life into your stories and characters by relating to them, or liking them, or even hating them strongly.  If you care nothing for your characters or your stories, then neither will your reader and you will end up with a happy boy with a red ball.  Personally I prefer the angst ridden little boy who desperately wants his father to choose him over his other family.  That is a little boy that I can relate to and a story that would interest me because it's filled with emotion and you know the writer felt something when he wrote it.  

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