Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

What should I write about?

by Rob - February 17th, 2009.
Filed under: Writing.

An email I received today from a university student, wanting to write her first novel:

I have just read your advice on writing. I am struggling to come up with what to write about. I am sort of tired of writing about things relating to me. I feel like my head is a confused sea of ideas. Can you help me?

My reply:

For me, ideas to write about come from months and months of research. Pick something that thematically interests you — the plight of the poor, race relations, the abortion issue, internationalism, whether it makes since to spend money going into space, the question of whether God exists — and then just immerse yourself in reading nonfiction on that topic looking for ideas and points related to it that lend themselves to dramatic treatment.

Books don’t spring full-blown from one’s forehead; they are the results of months of research and planning before the first word is written.

Good luck!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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