CRACKED! The Writer's Mystique

by Bob Nailor

Mystique 1: Write What You Know
Mystique 2: Finding Your Voice
Mystique 3: Know Your Character
Mystique 4: Active / Passive Voice
Mystique 5: Show versus Tell
Mystique 6: Editing
Mystique 7: The Muse
Mystique 8: Writer's Block
Mystique 9: Sex
Mystique 10: Dialog - PC
Mystique 11: World Building
Mystique 12: POV
Bonus: How To Be A Writer


You've heard the hype: "There is a book inside you just waiting to be written" or, "Anyone can write a book or, my favorite", "I've always wanted to write a book,"

Perhaps they are truisms — yes, maybe a truth, but more likely a cliché, or platitude, a little something to appease the creative soul within.

Therefore, if the adage "Anyone can write a book" is a truth, why is it, not everyone does? For some, it is a simple case of fear at approaching that "writing mystique" — it terrorizes many people. Parts of the "mystique" that many would-be authors find themselves stymied are: "Show versus tell," "Active or passive voice,"Know your character," and, again, a favorite, "Write what you know."

In this book I will show you how to break, also known as crack, these supposed "mystique" issues and approach writing with the proper frame of mind. I will address the secrets most fiction writers must face. A non-fiction writer should be able to adapt these concepts to accommodate their needs, and sometimes, I'll even show you how.

As with any journey, we will start at the beginning.

MYSTIQUE 1: Write What You Know

Sounds easy enough but exactly what does this mean? Most writers, especially non-fiction writers, write their books explaining facts as they know and see them: medical journals, science journals, even travel brochures. For them, they are definitely writing what they know. For the non-fiction writer — those who write fiction, romance, horror, adventure, science fiction, and the list of genres continues ad nauseam, this become a muddy puddle. If they don't know their "stuff" — they compose a poorly conceived story in which the reader loses interest because of the flaws.

A simple example: A science fiction writer needs to know and understand the basics of science. One can only use techno-babble (this is the ability to describe the new and unusual and will be discussed later) in limited quantities before the reader will glaze and close the book. Also, as stated, certain scientific facts must be adhered to such as on a planet circling a red sun which emits red light — the green grass of Earth would appear black. If you don't understand this concept, take a sheet of red cellophane paper and look through it. What we normally would see under our Earth sunlight would be totally different in the light of a red sun.

As my friend always stated when he would stumble and fall — gravity sucks. Gravity will pull you toward it and if you have two conflicting sources of gravity, the stronger will prevail. Consider our near neighbor, Mars, which has only about 38% the gravitational pull of Earth. You won't float away but, as an inhabitant of Earth, you'll definitely have a different perspective. Edgar Rice Burroughs used this aspect for his character, John Carter, to jump great distances. If you were to place your character on Jupiter which has 2.5 times the gravitational pull of Earth, your character would barely be able to move.

Enough about science.

What of detective tales? Unfortunately, we've been duped by Hollywood with its fancy movies and television shows. When you cut a vein or artery, the blood doesn't necessarily gush into the air. The same holds true for those exciting knife punctures — the blood will "pump" onto the ground/pavement. Remember, when watching re-enactments or murder scenes on the "big screen," it is usually a packet of animal blood or a chemical concoction being used to portray blood and it acts in a totally different way. Think about when you cut yourself. Exactly how does the blood appear?

Plus, only in Hollywood can the bad guys be the crappiest shots in the world. Your villain didn't get to be the main antagonist in the story by not being able to kill his opponents. Those protection goons should be be able to hit a fly on the wall with one shot. If not, personally speaking, I wouldn't have them protecting me. In addition, thugs need more talent than just being dumb.

If you want to write what you know, you have to learn. I avoided writing sword scenes in my fantasy stories because I didn't know how to handle a sword. Through fortunate events, I met a gentleman who does a sword fighting routine at different Renaissance festivals. He taught me how to use and handle a sword. Not only did I learn how to use it but also how the feel and heft of the blade handled. My sword fighting scenes now ring with a voice of authority. I also participated in a 2-day Civil War re-enactment to get a better understanding of life during that time period, including camping and cooking as a regiment soldier. I also learned wool in the summer is not comfortable.

One writer informed me she could get all the information she needed via the Internet. That medium is great as a resource, but it can also be flawed data and I therefore suggest a wary eye. As the adage goes — Just because you found it on the Internet, doesn't mean it's true. A library, on the other hand, can be invaluable for details for your books — both fiction and non-fiction. Still, research your research.

An adventure writer doesn't necessarily need to visit every country for an international storyline. Again, careful Internet research, coupled with several library trips, will garner the details necessary for the tale to highlight any travel abroad that may have occurred. My novel, 2012: Timeline Apocalypse takes place in Palenque, the Yucatan, southern Mexico. I've never been there, BUT, I have been through the Panama Canal and to Acapulco, Mexico. The novel is about the Mayan calendar and the big hoopla about December 21, 2012. I did my research which included learning about the Mayan people and their lifestyle in about 600 AD. Some research was done via the Internet, while other data was gleaned from books borrowed from the local library. For the books that weren't "in stock," the librarians were kind enough to order them in for me. One of my readers let me know that he and his family visited the Mayan ruins after reading my book. As he stated, It was chilling to stand in some of the locations you described and visualize your book coming to life.

I've explained some of how "Write What You Know" works, but now, for an explanation of how to do this — easily.

... Continued in the book ...

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