Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oh, the things you'll learn.

What's the biggest piece of crap writing advice handed out by every idiot with an opinion?

Write what you know.

What bullshit. If you follow that raggedy-assed advice you'll write one book, over and over, like Sue Grafton.

Sorry, that was a cheap shot. I'm a little crabby this morning.

One of the joys of writing is learning a bunch of stuff that you never knew before. I've learned how to suture wounds, book a felon, sail a boat, make C4 from household ingredients, hotwire a car, pick a lock, survive a fall, play piano, process a crime scene, and kill a man.

OK, my wife taught me how to kill a man, but the other skills are all things I learned from writing books. If I only wrote what I knew, there would be mayhem with the lawn mower, murder in the snack room, and blood behind the bar, all good things, don't get me wrong, but they would lose their luster after six or seven books.

For this screenplay I'm writing, I have to learn about golf (you were wondering how this tied into the picture, weren't you?) and, as someone who hasn't swung a mashie since LBJ was in office, I'll have to become familiar with the lingo of the links. Yes, I'd rather study blood spatter, but learning about golf has one distinct advantage: I'm getting paid.

What about you? What new and fascinating thing have you learned in your publishing career?

Besides patience.


Daniel Hatadi said...

Did that picture really have something to do with golf? I just couldn't tell.

James Lincoln Warren said...

Another piece of crappy advice for writers: "Show, don't tell."

JD Rhoades said...

I'm learning how to curse in Spanish.

David Terrenoire said...

Ai chingau, Dusty.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, I've learned a lot about fire investigation, and the differences between Canadian and American dog handlers for the police and how pathetically hard it is to come up with a good title.

And that no matter what you name your characters, somebody whines about it.

And if you kill a cat all the people on a certain mystery discussion thingy will send you hate mail...even if you don't kill a cat, but they just think you might because you're a scary Canadian.

And that there's a surprising demand for nude photos of authors. If the books don't sell, I have a back-up. If I can just get Konrath to give me some more.

James Lincoln Warren said...

Useful if you want to die: Chinga tu madre!

I offer not to send nude photos of myself if folks will read my work. Very effective.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I've seen you clothed, James. You've got yourself a deal.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I've learned the sequellae of brain injury. How the body deals with hypothermia. The LD50 for a fall onto dirt. A lot about the Thirty Years War, Chinese Dragon philosophy, various traditions of reincarnation and theosophy.

I mean, I've even learned Chaucer.

S. W. Vaughn said...

I am so completely with you on this. Hearing "write what you know" makes me want to hit someone in the teeth with the wrong end of a pool cue (one of the many fascinating things I've learned about in my research to write what I don't know).

I'm also learning how to curse in another language: Japanese. It's lots of fun. :-)