When I decided to write a novel – my first – I set about trying to understand where to begin. I read books on writing, watched numerous videos by authors about their writing process, and took some courses. One of the most oft-repeated recommendations I ran across was “write what you know.” I, of course, wanted to write a fantasy which means leaving the realm of the mundane and moving into the complete unknown. So, I had to ask myself, “How do you write what you know if your tale is headed way off the map?”

It took me a minute or two (and many more, to be honest) before I settled on a plan for how I could follow that advice. I would make my protagonist demographically similar to me. In other words, my protagonist was going to be a middle-aged man. I do have a modicum of understanding about one middle-aged man’s mind and emotional life. Not that my lead character was going to be just like me. No, no! I wanted the book to be interesting, for heaven’s sake! Even so, starting with that base gave me some comfort and the beginnings of a foundation for my narrative.

Looking to stick to the familiar, I also gave my leading man the same job as my father. I may not have direct experience in the field, but I picked up enough over the years to add verisimilitude. Besides, we wouldn’t see our hero at work for too long before he was catapulted into crazy, unexpected, fantastic adventures.

Write what you know in a fantasy? Why not? Now all I have to tackle are the mounds of stuff I don’t know anything about as well as the bits I have to invent. Well, I may actually know very little, but at least it got me started writing!

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