Thursday, February 12, 2009

Write what you know... the conventional wisdom.

I know that my own writing is definitely strongest when it is based on this principle, because even when fictionalising the material the emotional truth shines through.

I am now faced with deciding what to write for the next OU assignment, which is a very big one in terms of the overall assessment marks. We can choose from fiction, life writing or poetry. So having discounted poetry as far too risky, I am left with a choice of the other two.

I am lucky enough to have experienced plenty of possible material in my life. But do I go with life writing or do I create fiction from my own experience?

Answers on a postcard please.


Anonymous said...

For a great many people, the "what you know" part poses both a problem and a benefit. I believe I have a solution, though it may not work for all writers. The problem is that fact tends to be a bit more boring than fiction, which means that writing what you know would be less interesting. The benefit is that your experience with what you know will lead to realism; less necessity for the reader to suspend any disbelieve.

The trick is to get the right blend, I think. What I try to do is to apply what I know to the way characters behave and interact. This, I hope, leads to more realism in my work. When it comes to plots and settings, however, all bets are off. I relax the constraints and let it be more pure fiction. As long as they're not totally implausible, then I think this works, at least for the genres I work in.

I would go for fiction, as I think there's more scope (and possibly leeway). Life writing needs to be humorous, or at least I prefer it that way, but I'm not very good at writing humour. Mind you, I'm not you, so all of this is probably irrelevant.

Cathy said...

Not irrelevant at all,you've given me food for thought :-)


DJ Kirkby said...

If you write about life it will be incredibly interesting if you want to share that with your OU tutor but if you don't then you could dress life up as fiction. If that makes any sense?

Beth said...

I changed my mind about what I was doing yesterday. I'm far happier about my idea. I did this for A215 ECA as well - changed my mind at the last minute. I'm hating this decision, I really am.

Good luck deciding!

Cathy said...

DJ, yes it makes sense. Just got your book, btw, looking forward to reading it!

B - I'm definitely doing a story for the ECA. My proposal went in today, so my current thoughts are for TMA 05!

Casdok said...

Im sure with your boys you have many a tale to tell!

Good luck deciding!