Created By: Bonsai Forest on July 12, 2009
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Write What You Know

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We have Write Who You Know (when authors create characters based on those they know in real life), and Shown Their Work (for when authors avert Did Not Do The Research by actually doing it, and then wanting to prove it), but for some reason, we don't have one for when authors explicitly create a story about what they're familiar with/grown up with.

Any examples would of course explain how the author is writing what they know. I.e. the author of Nothings Fairin Fifth Grade is a former elementary school teacher and school psychologist, so she knows kids damn well, and it shows. Rather than using Shown Their Work (which would indicate that she had to do research, rather than simply working in the perfect environment for her writing to benefit), I wish I had a trope to simply indicate that she knows kids well because working with them is her job, and she's just Writing What She Knows.

Could we, or do we, have an article for that?
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • July 12, 2009
    cheat-master31
    I'm not sure if this counts, but apparently the inspiration for many of Shigeru Miyamoto's games such as The Legend Of Zelda, Pikmin and Nintendogs came from his hobbies/personal interests.
  • July 12, 2009
    Bonsai Forest
    That thought briefly went through my mind, but that's totally unrelated. Miyamoto doesn't live in the world of Zelda or Pikmin, so he's not making what he knows. Though if he were an interest on dogs at the time of making Nintendogs, that would make sense (if he transferred said expertise into the game). Otherwise, no, this is just making his hobbies, rather than his knowledge.
  • July 12, 2009
    RobinZimm
    Melville went on a couple whaling voyages (and wrote books about them - Typee and Omoo) before writing Moby Dick.
  • July 12, 2009
    Tomtitan
    The guy who created Pokemon (Satoshi Tajiri, I think) was a bug collector as a kid. That's how he came up with the idea of catcing and collecting critters. Or so I heard anyway.
  • July 12, 2009
    AvatarofRage
    Osamu Tezuka bore a degree in medicine, which becomes evident from time to time, mostly in his Sci Fi stuff, but most notably in Black Jack (when he's not disregarding in favor f Rule Of Cool that is).
  • July 12, 2009
    Bonsai Forest
    The guy who created Pokemon (Satoshi Tajiri, I think) was a bug collector as a kid. That's how he came up with the idea of catcing and collecting critters.

    Again, this has nothing to do with people choosing to write about their hobbies, but instead people writing in detail about things that they have personal knowledge of.

    Damn it. This trope article will have to be VERY specifically written so people don't start adding in inappropriate examples, which I know full well is going to happen.
  • July 12, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    Yeah, guys, this isn't about people's work being inspired by what they're interested in. That's... that's nearly universally true. (Who would write about something they're not interested in?)

    Think Michael Crichton, who spent years in medical school and then wrote a bunch of books about doctors and medicine, and also created ER. Or the lawyer John Grisham, who writes basically nothing but courtroom dramas.
  • July 12, 2009
    Tomtitan
    Ok, I think I get it now. The author Andy Mc Nab is a former SAS member, and was at one point one of the most decorated servicemen in the UK. Naturally, all of his books have been about the SAS in some way.
  • July 12, 2009
    Bonsai Forest
    It goes beyond that, though. The thing is, if the book/movie/etc. contains explicit details of the person's job, or things they learned from being on the job, then that's Write What You Know. Because they're realistically depicting what they know, which is what they're writing about.
  • July 12, 2009
    Ronka87
    How about Sad Sack? It's a comic about a dopey private's mishaps in the army, and was written/drawn by Sgt. George Baker during WWII. It was created expressly for the army, though, so it might not qualify.
  • July 12, 2009
    Tomtitan
    In that case the Andy Mc Nab example still applies. Some of his books begin with a glossary of SAS terms because he uses them so much.
  • July 12, 2009
    caravaggio
    Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs writes the original novels, Bones (later used to create Bones), two guesses what Temperance "Bones" Brennan does for a living.
  • July 12, 2009
    Bonsai Forest
    All examples in the trope page will have to explain that the hobby/profession/whatever detailed in the story is done so very realistically AND is that of the author. If it's only the first, then it's Shown Their Work. If it's only the second, then it might be another trope.

    Just so you know.

    I think this article might be ready for prime time, though the examples that don't explain how the authors/creators are actually portraying their interest realistically will need to be either fleshed out, or cut.
  • July 12, 2009
    arromdee
    Can result in Most Writers Are Writers.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=16t02si5v7dd16c683p5hpkq&trope=WriteWhatYouKnow