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Pen IN Hand
January, 2008

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We're All Human... I Think
It's not too hard to write what you know
By  Peggy Bechko

liens and dragons and murders, oh my!

Well, can't write about any of those things, or much of anything else for that matter. After all, the cardinal rule of writing is to write what write what you know, right? But it's become such a cliche.

How many times have you heard the phrase? A teacher at school might say it; maybe a leader at a workshop. Even some writers who may be great writers, but don't know how in the world to teach utter the (gasp) ultimate phrase, "Write what you know."

It hangs there in the air between you. You wait. Nothing. No elaboration.

Now I ask you, what kind of thing is that to say without filling in the details?

I mean taken at face value, if you haven't killed anyone recently, or battled aliens on a planet in a galaxy far far away, then you're kinda up a creek, aren't you? In the grand scheme of things you really don't know much, do you? Me either.

So, take a deep breath, don't hyperventilate and pay attention. From the age of 13 when I began writing seriously I had that toss-off phrase hurled my way on numerous occasions. Based on my experience of novels published, screenplays optioned, and other assorted writing bits published, here's my take on it.

That particular phrase can take on a whole new (and yes, even enlightening) meaning. Let me explain. You and I really do know a whole lot.

We're all human. At least I am and I'm presuming for purposes of this exercise that you are too. We share many common experiences. It isn't as if you have to actually encounter aliens in deepest, darkest space in order to write about them. You already have what you need inside to do that. You've experienced fear in your life, probably terror.

Few haven't felt the familiar cold prickle at the back of their neck. You know what it means to sweat and to feel relief too. I know you've felt pain and anxiety as well. If you're not afraid of the dark now you probably were as a kid (or, if you're a kid reading this, well, what can I say?).

Those experiences and feelings, the spectrum of the human experience, common to us all are what that (gasp) ultimate phrase refers to.

So don't allow your dreams of writing be squashed or thrown off track by that time-honored grand poobah's utterance.

Do, instead, take the time to know what you're writing about.

If you're writing non-fiction, you can learn what you need to know about a subject through research. Then use your life's experiences to breathe life into that writing.

Know how you would react to what you've learned, how it makes you feel. Project that feeling onto your writing and see how positively your readers will react to you.

If it's fiction you're pursuing, create the world where your story will be framed; be true to your world. Then think about how you would react. If you saw unspeakably ugly aliens coming at you through a dark hole in space what would you feel?

How would others react around you? Would you jump to the conclusion that the aliens were friendly or evil? Something in between? Delve deep. Think about all those things, feel them, and then use them to your advantage.

After all, we're all human.
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Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (Ebook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating with a producer on a animated series.

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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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