Monday, April 6, 2009
Write about what you know
OK, slept well, glands going down, brain semi-funtioning, let's dooooo it.
A little while ago I read a book written by a well known American author, whose work I greatly admire. He is a far better writer than I.
I enjoyed the book as a story. However, the author had overreached himself. He had set the story in the middle of the 20thC and his primary POV characters were upper-class Englishmen. He had the basic historical facts right but wrote them as 21stC Americans. They think in a composite of British and America English - automobiles for example.
The characters have 21stC American politics. The civil servants are scared of 'The Liberals' taking office. That one had me flummoxed. The Liberal Party had no chance of winning an election in the 1940s or 50s. Then I realised he meant The Labour Party, who were socialists, not liberals. There is a difference. Besides, why would senior civil servants want The Conservative Party to win an election? British civil servants of this period were not neo-cons.
It is difficult to write a book out of your cultural perspective. I would have problems writing a book with 1950s upper class Englishmen as my POV characters.
There is an old saying - write about what you know. You will be far more convincing. Agatha Christie's stories are not about detectives but about the foibles of upper-middle class southern English families of a certain era.
PS The pic is of Faversham Creek on the North Kent marshes at Harty Ferry