Write What You Know

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By Lynn Hobbs

Have you ever read a book that kept your attention? Was it informative?

I have been fortunate enough to read many and I can assure you, they will remain in my library to be shared and reread later.

What are the writers secret to writing such terrific books?

Simple. They are writing what they know.

They may add enough fiction to push the story forward, but the main meat and potatoes of the story is something they know about firsthand, or through daily observation.

If you experience an actual lesson learned through your own mistakes, and write about it through the eyes of your character, the emotion will jump from the page. Readers will be pulled into the story at a greater depth.

I always pray for direction before I begin writing, and I do enjoy using my own imagination as a Christian Fiction author.

There are times though when I try to address what issues others have struggled with that I am personally aware of. After working in the public for over thirty years, I have seen many situations I could write about. I only take bits and pieces from a true story and change it into a new character to help others with a similar problem.

When I do this, no character is a true person. I may add traits from several people, or have a definite profile of a certain character type in mind, but I add fiction for ninety percent of the remainder.

For example:

A female co-worker becomes a male neighbor. Or an ex-brother-in-law becomes a female mayor. If the situation happened in Texas, change the setting to Ohio.

Do your research on the new location and make it so familiar readers will think you lived near that area.

Put as much emotion in writing the situation you are sharing that no one will want to stop reading.

You want your reader to ponder a lesson learned…then as soon as possible, you pick up speed and write something else entirely different.

If your readers ask if you’ve experienced this personally, or ask if you realize how strongly they could relate to what that character struggled with; then you reached their full attention.

Whatever I am writing about, I include a scripture to help with the character’s problem, or with the character’s success. I don’t dwell on it, I gently insert it where it will flow with the story, and not seem out of place for my character to either mention or consider.

Again, don’t dwell on the scripture, or readers may stumble getting away from the story. It has to tie into the story and have significant meaning to that situation or to that character. As a Christian Fiction author, you want to encourage.

You may ask, can I write about something without getting sued by others that were also involved? Yes, if you make important changes.

Ask yourself how it will benefit the public by learning what was experienced.

Is it what needs to be shared from a Christian viewpoint?

An attorney once told me in writing anything be certain no one can prove you are writing about them.

Change names, genders, settings, and above all else don’t write with a suggestive name.

If you are writing about what Luke did at his post office job, don’t call him Duke, Leon, Larry, or anything remotely close to the real person’s name.

Luke would become Suzie and immediately be an airline stewardess.

What you knew firsthand could then be shared with gusto to help others in a similar situation.

Happy writing!

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Lynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and Salvation, River Town, and Hidden Creek, and won 1st place Religious Fiction in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of Lillie, A Motherless Child, which won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA, and the American Neighborhood Series: Eyes of a Neighbor. Her current work-in-progress is Mind of a Neighbor. Visit Lynn on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.


Comments 1

  1. They say the stories that we tell
    should be the one we know,
    but it might be hard to sell
    “The Surfing Eskimo.”
    He came from far-off Attu,
    where he rode the waves in fog,
    and moved thereby to Malibu
    with his Husky dog.
    Now he wows bikini’d babes
    (they love him, heart and soul!)
    with his unique wipeout save,
    the Hang-Ten Longboard Roll.
    This is MY story, if you please,
    except that I am North Chinese.

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