What Do You Know?

“Write What You Know.” Original Author Unknown

“Beware of advice—even this.” Carl Sandberg


Creative juices are flowing. Your protagonist takes a high-powered position in a renowned law firm to be closer to her love interest. The romance is simple for you to write, however you know almost nothing about a criminal law firm. To make the story realistic, research is necessary. Even the pros do it.


Tom Clancy, known for espionage and military based novels such as The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, The Sum of All Fears, and Clear and Present Danger, was never in the military. Clancy had a bachelor’s degree in English literature and worked in the insurance business. His fascination with the military motivated him to do the research to create his best-selling novels.


Vince Flynn, a dyslexic who graduated with a degree in economics, was medically disqualified from entering the Marine Aviation Program. He quit his commercial real estate job to work full time on his first novel, Term Limits, a political thriller. Flynn also wrote Transfer of Power, The Third Option, and Act of Treason. Having no military or political background, he did a lot of research to get essential facts correct.


Harlan Coben studied political science in college and writes mysteries, such as Tell No One, Deal Breaker, Just One Look, and Six Years.


Some best-selling authors use the knowledge of their occupations to create heart-stopping plots. Robin Cook is a physician who writes medical thrillers, i.e. Coma and Contagion. Tess Gerritsen is a physician who wrote Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, as well as a series of novels that spawned the television series, “Rizzoli & Isles.”


Michael Crichton, an anthropology professor, studied medicine and did exhaustive research to write medical thrillers. He is well-known for Jurassic Park, Twister, and The Andromeda Strain which were made into popular movies. Crichton also created the television series, E. R.


Are you motivated enough to thoroughly research your topic of interest to complete your novel? Will you be the next Tom Clancy, Tess Gerritsen, or Vince Flynn? What are you interested in researching?

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