Sunday, May 15, 2011

Guest Blog

So today I'm trying something different, a guest blog from a writer called S.L. Schmitz. Check out what she has to say, and if you like her style go and buy her book...

S.L. Schmitz

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a writer was the following phrase: “Write what you know or believe.” Sounds easy, right?  As a writer of the darker genres, I know that these things are worthy of my belief systems: there is life beyond the human life. There are ghosts caught in the world between the seen and unseen. There are unexplained phenomena, and there are more than three dimensions. I believe in forgotten gods, unremembered civilizations, and dark caverns that lead into the unknown. I believe in undecipherable languages, and museum artifacts which are not properly catalogued. I think that there is water on other planets, and I think that there are life forms which are not carbon-based.  I want to believe in sea monsters and mysterious land creatures that are still alive and hidden. I also know that I want what is hidden to stay hidden; just because I believe in them does not mean I seek confirmation or proof.

So I am very careful to write about what I know and what I can justify, whether real or imagined. Are my stories too basic or common? Perhaps. But I want the reader to make an identification between the world I have created and the existing world; I try to use sentences which are long enough to communicate the story, but short enough to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. I write, and then I edit. And then I edit again. And again. I am in awe of writers who can get their thoughts on paper with just one or two editorial passes – how do they do that? It takes me such a long time to write because I never stop trying to make it sound or feel better. I want the words on the page to touch on all 5 senses, and to roll off the tongue like a beloved song.

"Write what you know or believe” sounds so trite, but it has saved me many times from writing under false pretenses. I understand the worlds of heartbreak, desire, physical phenomena, and developmental disability, because these are the memories I have collected throughout my life. I have worked in the social services-type fields for years, and I believe that my knowledge of psychosis and adolescent angst have been invaluable in helping develop my characters. For instance, if you have never been in a mental hospital, you will have a very difficult time describing one accurately without a field trip and lots of research. There are many different kinds of Autism, people with Down’s Syndrome are not always cute, and having an obsessive-compulsive disorder is much more involved than just frequent hand-washing; in order to create dynamic characters it is vital to have a working knowledge of what the heck you are writing about.  Examples of situations where I would have a difficult time with accuracy would be scenes involving mechanical or scientific equipment, factories, and foreign cultures of places I have never visited.

So I continue writing, and editing, and seeking out beta readers and fact checkers to help me improve what I am not an expert in. I write using the language I know and the words I am fluent in. I hope that others will be able to believe in the worlds that I create, and that my stories are written in the simplest form of complexity that I can achieve.

Let It Bleed is available in both E-book and soft cover through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  S.L. Schmitz lives in North Carolina, and spends her days chasing a five-year old and keeping 4 felines happy. Please visit her website at

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