Lying seems a particularly relevant topic today, so let’s apply it to writing.
Writers need to know a lot about their characters and the worlds those characters are in, no matter what the genre of the story. But we’re also human.
Something I learned at a workshop once is the art of lying just enough.
You don’t have to know everything about horses. Or dogs or houses or cars or whosiwhats. You just have to know enough.
To know “enough,” you’re going to have to do some research. Lying doesn’t get you completely off the hook. But if you’re good at lying, your research can be focused and concise.
For example, if you’re writing about horses, tossing in a breed name, just a single breed name, implies that you know about a bunch of horse breeds.
Okay, so it’s not actually lying
“Lying” is a little generous here. You do need to know your shit, but you might not need to know as much as you think.
If you were writing about a world that had a lot of volcanoes, it could be overwhelming to realize how much you need to learn. But you don’t actually need to be a geologist. You just need to know enough.
Not a science
Determining what’s enough can be a moving target. There’s no hard and fast rules about this.
My preferred method is to:
- Write the outline
- Research what seems to require research
- Write the draft
- See where the holes are and do some additional research
It’s not a perfect system, but hopefully it’s good enough.
The list is short this time because it’s really going to depend on what you’re researching.