The Clever Art of Writing Things You Know Nothing About

In all honesty, Calvin is right. You should right about what you know. After all, if you draw on your (surprisingly shallow) reservoir of knowledge (mostly pertaining to nerdy lore about netflix shows and video games), then it makes writing easier, right? RIGHT?!

However, by this point you may have guessed the obvious problem: does anyone actually care (outside of Destiny fans, that is) that Banshee-44, the Tower’s gunsmith, is in fact the Exo personality of Clovis Bray I and has been rebooted a number of times that far exceeds the normal number of resets for an Exomind, and is also the grandfather of the Exo Stranger and Anastasia Bray (also the creator of all Exominds period).

What? And suddenly every non-destiny nerd is running for the hills (or better yet, running for their phones so they can record you as a madman speaking gibberish). This is all because you wrote on exactly what you knew, and nothing more. Heck, if you only wrote about what you knew as a writer, your career would probably start and end in American CRF.

So, there is a cheat to all writers out there. It’s hypocritical, but highly satisfying and extremely useful. You must learn to write about things you know nothing about. There’s only one other alternative: know everything about everything you write about. This is useful, I guess, if you’re going to have someone fact-check everything you write (a good strategy for journalists, but if you write non-truth for a living, not so much…).

But even here, there’s a catch. It’s humanly impossible to write about something that you know nothing about. However, you get two things to work in your direction. One, you’re writing fiction, so you don’t need to be COMPLETELY true when explaining matters of particle theory and how this weapon uses them to explode things and blah blah blah. Two, there’s a good chance your readers don’t know more about it than you do.

So what do you do? Well…do a LITTLE research. If you want to describe the condition of someone’s parent who has tuberculosis, do a little research (and it just so happens that the most common form of tuberculosis is “pulmonary tuberculosis”. You may not know what that means, but it sounds smart; throw it in) and add something that sounds smart. Boom. Mission accomplished.

The trick is to commit the high-tech logical fallacy: make something sound smart, and therefore you must know what you’re talking about. That’s like putting on a pair of phony glasses and a stained lab coat and trick people into believing that you’re a scientist. But hey, if it works, it works.

Usually, you only need to sound like you know what you’re talking about in matters of science fiction. However, it can also invade the realm of the ordinary (kinds of cars, calibers of bullets, names of American presidents, etc.) but here, the same rule applies: minimal research and clever wording can make you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

DISCLAIMER: Strongly note: I am not campaigning for ignorant college students to magically parade themselves as professors because they know a thing or two about science. For all intensive purposes and practical applications, do your homework. This does not work on tests. Use this technique for fictional writing; nothing more.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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