Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.
I’ve not heard of this author, but came across this quote on Pinterest and kinda loved it! 🙂
I have never been a fan of the whole “write what you know” thing. It doesn’t make sense.
If we only wrote about what we knew, what genres would that leave us with? In fact, I’m not sure fiction would even exist, if you took the statement that far.
Fantasy wouldn’t exist. Sci-fi wouldn’t exist. I doubt many horror novels would exist–if you’re reading Stephen King, a lot of his inspiration comes from the “what if?” questions, which implies the answer isn’t known right off.
Writing fiction shouldn’t be limited by what we do and do not know; by what we have and have not experienced personally. If there is something that will play an vital part in a story and it needs to be written about well and knowledgeably, then by all means, do your research! That’s not the same thing.
The only thing that should limit your fiction is what you can feel about/for a subject, character, story, etc. etc.. That’s where that empathy comes into play.
If you’ve read extensively, as all authors ought to do, then you’ll have empathy mastered already–at least when it applies to the fictional world. You feel what the characters feel when you read, don’t you? It should be the same way when you write.
You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes–a great many person’s shoes, really.
Say you want to write something about a chainsaw-wielding clown going on some murderous rampage. (Sorry, but Halloween is coming up…and I hate clowns….) I doubt you’ve ever been such a clown, or been affected by one, but you have to see what the world is like from the point of view of the clown, the victims, the family and friends of the victims, the police officers hunting down the maniac….
You aren’t one of those people in real life…but what if you were?
I do believe that this is a skill that will be better learned by reading and writing more. Empathy in writing is a skill, and the better you become at it the more believable your writing will be. And who doesn’t want that?