Have you ever heard the saying “write what you know”?
I don’t know who came up with it, but I have to emphatically disagree. After all, the world is a very big place, and what I know about the world would maybe fit in a thimble (in other words, it’s not much), even though I’ve done a few unusual things in my life (like train as a combat medic, learn to fly a helicopter, and hang out with a search-and-rescue team).
If I had to “write what I know,” it would be terribly limiting (and boring!).
So I don’t.
Instead, I use writing as an “excuse” to learn more about things that interest me. And I find a SME (“Subject Matter Expert”) who is willing to let me pick their brain and become my go-to guy (or gal) when I have questions about a topic.
In the case of RANGER’S SACRIFICE, there were details about being an Army Ranger that I didn’t know. I needed to talk to an actual Army Ranger. Luckily, I found one!
During the course of our “interviews,” I asked some borderline-classified questions that my new friend couldn’t answer fully (see the video here). But even so, because of his help, RANGER’S SACRIFICE is just that much better.
People often say writing is a solitary endeavor. And for much of the time that is true. But I sure enjoy the “excuse” of being a writer for getting to know interesting people!
Why I Love SMEs (“Subject Matter Experts”)
Could I write my books without input from SMEs? Sure. Some stories more easily than others! But I don’t think the book would be as good. I wouldn’t get comments like this one (about Last Chance Rescue):
“The first few chapters describe in detail what an actual rescue mission was like, right down to the language used by real rescue teams, helicopter pilots and medics. It was clear that the author had a knowledgeable background in this area and that made the reading even more enjoyable.”
Here’s a short teaser to get you started…
Sergeant First Class Cory Foster tossed his gear on the ground with more force than was necessary. He dropped his ass onto it, using the crumbling wall as support for his back.
Nothing. They’d found nothing. Where there was definitely supposed to be something. More specifically, someone. A High-Value Target, otherwise known as HVT. Where was this elusive traitor/double-agent they’d been sent to track down? And how many more people would have to die before they neutralized him?
He rubbed his temples. Had they missed something? Had he made the right decisions?
Absently he rubbed his hand over his side where Rolando had knifed him.