When Writing What You Know Works

The short story “SeeApp” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2019) is a brilliant illustration of why we are advised to write what we know. James Van Pelt taught for 36 years; he may have never been in a school like the one in his story, or met anyone like his characters, but everything feels right. The descriptions are in his bones, and the words flow off his fingers. This is why my co-author Ann Anastasio and I set our first book in a quilt store, and grounded all our books in the quilting world. We know those places like our own kitchens, and we know the people in them. It was easy to create the settings and characters when we had our combined lifetime experiences to draw upon. Once that was on paper, the stories took off on their own. I’m convinced everyone has at least one story to tell, so give it a try. Put the world you know best in words, and see where that takes you.

Luck and wisdom!

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2 Responses to “When Writing What You Know Works”

  1. vvanp2015 Says:

    Hi, Lani. Thanks for the shout out. I combined two schools I taught in for the story. Sadly enough, the janitor I talked to the most about this piece, and the one who was partly the model for Handy, died unexpectedly last week. I’m glad that the details felt real to you. I like to think I researched this piece for 36 years.

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