We write what we know

by Wendy Cuccia-Griffin


I love to write… most of the time.

Writing is my therapy and my sounding block, my imaginary friend – the one that always listens, even when everyone else is tired of hearing my voice. But before I could write, I learned to read.

In infancy, long before we speak our first words we instinctively stretch our awareness, deciphering the sounds and expressions of the people around us. Eventually words evolve into sentences, allowing us to communicate what we see, hear, feel and experience.

When our parents and teachers read to us as young children, those words, spoken in lilting tones and animated expressions, open our minds, allowing us to dream, to imagine people and places far away, from what we know. Reading, and being read to, is a visceral experience. Writing fiction turns the tables on that experience.

A great story has a magical ability to seep into the crevices between the black text and white space on the page, conjuring a trail of colorful images that bring the words to life in the mind of the reader. That magic begins as little more than a fleeting thought, a spark in the imagination of the writer that created it. Where does that spark come from?

There is an old saying that we write what we know. I believe stories that reflect, however overtly or covertly the thoughts, ideas and often fantasies of the author carry a special flair of authenticity within the words.  That authenticity comes in many forms. An emotional connection to the circumstances. A passion for the time-period or location. A desire to be, or be with, the characters that exist in our minds long before they take shape in our writing. A story that comes from the heart resonates in the soul and lingers in the memory of the reader.

Pick up one of the first books from your favorite author, no matter the genre, then, Google for information about their life around or before the time that work was written. With few exceptions you will see how even the most subtle the threads of truth shine through, bringing depth to their characters and resonance to the stories.

I would love to know what is your favorite book and why? Did you fall in love with the hero? Was the setting somehow familiar? Let us know in the comments!

Until next time, keep reading!


2 thoughts on “We write what we know

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