One of the most common pieces of writing advice is write what you know. And yet, I’ve read books that were so heavy on the detail that the story became bogged down or lost completely. It’s a very fine line to walk in writing what you know and boring the crap out of your readers. So how do you do that?
I put what I know into my fantasy writing. With Pito, the bearded dragon in Hidden, I had to stay true to bearded dragon care while understanding that the story took place far removed from my moving into the south, but still Midwestern home. Things that I worry about, like ensuring my beardies have enough heat, aren’t a worry in the Costa Rican rainforest and the food would be completely different too.
And then there’s the music. How to translate playing an instrument, letting the notes move through you to paper. The reader doesn’t need a thesis on modern clarinet playing anymore than the reader wants to be left out of that experience.
I find that when you select a few choice details, enough to set the mood and provide information without going overboard, it helps. With my equestrian fiction, the readers want the minute of barn life. If someone didn’t scoop feed and clean stalls, the readers would notice. So you also have to balance what you want to convey with your readers’ expectations.
When you’ve created this balance, you will have immersed your reader into a world that your reader may not know. You’ll have imparted knowledge while still entertained. And that’s the goal of any good author now, isn’t it? To entertain our readers.