By Bethany-Kris, author of Lynked
When I asked other writers for advice about what I should do when I first decided to try writing professionally, I was told one of two things.
One, write what you know. It’s a safer route to stay inside your comfort zone.
Two, write what you don’t. Push your limits, drown in the fun of research, and try something new.
Well, thanks, I said.
When I sat down with the little idea that was Lynked in my mind with the intention of actually being published, I didn’t know which of these routes I wanted to take. I only had the seed then—just a bare glimpse of the plot. I didn’t know much about these characters other than their names and the way I wanted them to meet, so I still had a great deal of the rest of the story to flesh out.
I thought the advice I was given didn’t help me a bit. It certainly didn’t help to make heads or tails of the way I wanted the story to go, anyway. Then I thought about it some more. It’s actually pretty great advice depending on which way I looked at it. Writing what I knew gave my words the ability to feel more real and personal while writing what I didn’t know about gave me the chance to be original in my own way. When I read romance, I tended to focus a lot on the paranormal genres. I never ventured too far away from my romance “safety zone” so to speak.
But that was just reading. And reading had very little to do with my writing, I realized.
So, I started to think about what I did know and what I did want included. I knew without a doubt that I wanted my first story to have an honest feel. From making mistakes, to falling in love, to maturing, I wanted all of that to have a real human feel so the readers could find at least one thing with one of the characters they were able to relate to. I loved mixed-martial arts fighting, but not necessarily the way the media treated and portrayed it sometimes. I knew I loved Alberta, Canada as I had spent the last three years living in the province and traveling from one end of it to the other while I was there. I knew I loved seeing characters make mistakes and the tough choices and repercussions that would follow those normal human errors.
And so, Lynked started to form with each one of these enjoyments of mine, little by little.
I stuck to what I knew when I wrote in the form of a hero who was honest to a sometimes painful point, to a heroine who was relatable to women with her precarious past and desire to keep her reputation above water. I stuck to a country I knew well enough to write about because I was raised in it and a city I had personally spent a great deal of time in.
And I stuck to what I didn’t know, things that wouldn’t maybe be normally done in romance, or just by things I would have liked to be seen done differently as a personal choice. Things like changing up the rules in standard MMA fighting, or bringing in the issue of the hero being forced to face jail time because of his bad decisions in regards to his business.
Lynked was not the first story I had published, but it was the first one I wrote with the intent of having it as such. I’m proud of the way it turned out by writing what I knew, and trying some things I didn’t. Needless to say, the advice I was given was better than I first thought. So, it’s turned into my advice now, too. Except maybe I’ll change it around a little.
Just write it. And have fun when you do it.