I've long been a critic of writer's limiting themselves to what they know. How boring would it be to never think outside the box? But this isn't necessarily the meaning of the old adage to stick with familiar topics. Writing about a topic you understand is a good idea. Writing strictly about what you know is a bad idea because it will probably bore you and your readers are sure to pick up on your boredom.
So how do we balance writing about topics we know without risking boredom to ourselves and our readers? We add a twist! For example, I work in the medical field. I could write about the field I work in, but after being immersed in my job duties for eight or more hours each day, the last thing I want to focus on in my writing is my profession. However, I can use it as a setting for the plot and then add something else of interest to the story.
Thinking of a twist is harder than it seems at first glance. This is due primarily to being focused on what is instead of what could be. It's hard to think of something you do day after day in a different light. Ask yourself what could happen if. . .
Following the example above, I could ask myself what would happen if a treatment went wrong. How could it go wrong? Who would be affected? Who might be blamed?
If the questions don't elicit an interest in the storyline, then keep asking questions until something sparks. This method can be used to generate ideas for any genre. Again, following the example above:
- Romance - What if a patient fell in love with their physician? Another patient?
- Science Fiction - What if aliens were using a hospital to do research?
- Horror - What if an experimental treatment went wrong? What could be the outcome?
- Action/Adventure - What if a physician uncovered a scheme by an insurance company to defraud the government? How could he stop them or warn somebody?
Let your imagination run wild. Pick a topic, then twist it into a story. Make sure the tale is intriguing enough to keep you interested as the author. If it doesn't then the idea should be set aside and another sought. Use your existing knowledge and familiarity with a topic as a building block. You don't have to limit yourself to only writing what you know, but it's a tool you shouldn't overlook.
Sonia Fischer is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Creative Writing .