Knowing What to Write About

With few exceptions, most people interact with others in their lifetime, either in person or through media. These experiences, no matter how small, shape who we are and provide an ample resource to draw from creatively. Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

Joshua Hernandez

October 4, 2021

Human beings are fascinating creatures, and two of the biggest reasons why, at least to me, is our ability to consciously observe the world around us, or in layman’s terms, to think.

My second reason is our ability to take our thoughts and observations and translate them into ideas which can be shared with others, or rather our ability to communicate.

I think as long as anyone has these abilities, they have the potential to tell stories, and not just basic skits, but grand-scale epics and honest tear-jerkers, the kind we recall and retell for literal generations.

It is not that hard either, provided you know what you want to write about or what you want to say.

So, in the spirit of helping the next generation of Shakespearean poets find the answers to these questions, let us start with the basics.

Firstly, the easiest way to start plotting is to write what you know.

As this video explains, to write what you know effectively, you should draw inspiration from your feelings on a past experience more than the details of said experience.

Instead of just writing a pseudo-autobiography, think about the message and feelings you want to convey, come up with a fun metaphor or situation to explore those feelings, and write so the audience can understand your characters emotional state.

If you think you do not have many experiences to draw from, or if you simply want more sources to pull inspiration from, then it also helps to mimic your idols.

Jack Kirby, the co-creator of many of Marvel’s iconic characters, once gave a speech at the 1970 Comic-Con stating that every artist is influenced by those who came before, and go on to influence those who come after.

So long as you take inspiration from several different sources and you put your personal touch on your work, you should avoid falling into the trap that is plagiarism.

Early Marvel stories drew heavy inspiration from the world that creators like Stan Lee or Jack Kirby lived in, like how the X-Men were conceived as a metaphor for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Likewise, many current creators still cite Kirby and others as a main inspiration for their work. Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

Which brings us to the last tip: remember that you are writing for you, not for others, or as author Alexa Donne would say, “no one cares as much as you.”

Instead of focusing on mass appeal, focus on writing a story you would like to read, then work to make the emotional core make sense.

If you are honest with yourself and your audience, someone out there will get it, and more importantly, you will too.

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