Write What You Know
4.3 (105 ratings)
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Write What You Know

How to spot the ideas that surround you, then convert them into ready-to-write story outines
4.3 (105 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,845 students enrolled
Created by R. L. Zeck
Last updated 9/2016
English [Auto-generated]
Price: Free
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 11 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Identify ideas for fiction story plots from what they already know and experience
  • Make those ideas even more interesting by asking 'What can I change?'
  • Use those ideas to answer the Storytelling Questions which will result in a coherent, satisfying outline
  • Take that outline and immediately get writing -- no more writer's block...
View Curriculum
  • No prior skills are needed. A pen and paper might be useful.

Learn four areas in your day-to-day life that are teeming with nuggets for story ideas--areas of knowledge and experience that most people wouldn't think of as having any potential. Then learn how to turn those ideas into story outlines by answering just three questions in this easy to implement course.

Put into practice the phrase "Write what you know" using your personal knowledge and experience.

  • Spot story prompts in your everyday experiences
  • Use your prior knowledge of the world of work to come up with stories
  • Identify the stories in experiences you have and haven't had 
  • Learn the questions that turn these things into story plot points
  • Learn the three Story-telling Questions that convert those plot points into a logical, satisfying story outline.

What you know already will surprise you

Experienced writers sometimes run out of ideas, and they call it writer's block. Fledgling writers are advised to write what they know, but may feel that they've led a less than exciting life, devoid of events that might make a good story. The fact is that both kinds of writer are sitting on a goldmine of ideas for stories. We'll learn how to dig them up and exploit them. Once we've got a starting point, the story becomes pretty much inevitable. Especially when you use the questions in this course.

Overview - what's covered, and what additional resources you get

I designed the course to be fast to digest: the idea is to learn each principle and then put it into practice straight away. The topic lectures get straight to the point, and then give at least one example of that point. In each lecture you're then shown at least one possible way to develop that example into either the starting point of a story, or how it might be used to add an extra dimension to one. Finally, you then get to see the three Story-telling Questions in action, to leave a story just waiting to be written. Each of the four areas has a downloadable PDF worksheet to act as a summary sheet, or for you to print out and use if you wish.

The great thing is that because your source material is based in reality, it will resonate with your readers. No more reviews saying 'Oh yes, as if that would ever happen...'

Once you've been through this course you'll never again be stumped for story ideas. 

And neither will you think that your life is uneventful.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is intended for fiction writers struggling with the advice "Write what you know." It's intuitive and introspective, so no prior knowledge is required. It's NOT for writers of non-fiction
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Curriculum For This Course
How To Generate Satisfying Story Material From What You Already Know
6 Lectures 50:20

In this four part course, you're going to amaze yourself. Why? Because you never knew you knew so much valuable stuff. (Valuable from a story teller's point of view, that is.) Ever been told to write what you know? Well guess what? You know tons! 

Don't believe me? 

Take the course and see for yourself. Once you've been through all four lectures, you'll realise you're an island surrounded by a sea of enough material to turn out a short story every day forever, if you want. Not only that, but you'll have a foolproof method to generate beginnings, middles and ends derived from the material itself, so your story arc makes sense. No more wild out-of-character plot swerves simply to get from A to the story's Z

What's more, your story material and plots will emanate from real life--yours!--and so they are more likely to resonate with your readers..

Ready to Write What You Know?


Advice to beginning writers is to Write What You Know, as if it were a proverb. And while it sounds like great--almost patronisingly obvious--advice, no one dispensing that advice ever seems to elaborate on how. 

So how can you Write What You Know (capitalisation intentional), especially if, like most people, you're under the impression that your life is dull and uneventful? 

The first step is to change that idea...and with good cause, because our lives, when looked at through a story-teller's eyes, are anything but dull or routine. If anything, they're the exact opposite. 

This lecture will show you 

  • what to be on the lookout for, and
  • how to exploit what you find, and turn it into a plot point
  • the Story-telling Questions to apply to this plot point

You'll then know your beginning, middle and ending: All you have to do now is flesh it all out.

And because it happened to you, you'll be doing exactly what the Pearl Of Wisdom says you should: writing what you know.

Part 1: How To Find Engaging Story Material In Your Everyday Life

If you had three wishes, what would you ask for?

In this part of the course we'll see how creatively answering that question, then using the same method as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, can be used to generate beginnings, middles and endings for stories that will resonate with readers. 

The only thing left to do will be join the dots.

Part 2 -- How To Generate Stories From Your Daydreams and Deepest Desires

In this part of the course we'll be looking at two areas you are very familiar with: 

  • things that went right in your life, and 
  • things that almost went horribly wrong 

You'll then apply the three questions, and learn the correct order to ask them in.

You'll then be able to take either scenario and turn it into an outline, complete with beginning, middle and end--just waiting to be filled out into a story.

Part 3: How To Generate Stories from Near Misses and Things You're Grateful For

Some people assert that they are not defined by their job, but in fiction, that is not true. In every job description there lurks at least one, and possibly several, stories. (Useful if you wish to write a series.)

After you've finished this lecture, you'll know how to mine not only potential storylines from jobs and careers, but also reasons why those stories are plausible. If you also apply the three Questions, you'll end up with a story that has an underlying logic and unity.

Part 4: How to Generate Stories From Jobs and Careers

Broad Concepts
4 questions

Bonus Material -- More Sources, But Not From Everyday Life
About the Instructor
R. L. Zeck
4.3 Average rating
105 Reviews
5,845 Students
1 Course
Slipstream author, Educator

Roger Lord Zeck mostly writes speculative flash fiction in the form of Slipstream. He has a Master's degree in Creative Writing, and has taught the subject at University in Korea. 

His  pieces can be found in two print anthologies (365 Tales and 52 Stitches), but most of his published stories appeared on the now defunct Alien Skin Magazine , including an early work, The Poster, which preceded Dr Who's Weeping Angels by several years, but ... well no doubt the parallels are due to one of those synchronicity things, what with it being a big universe, and all...

Meanwhile, BramblesCows, Pete and 5-Sided Bivouac can be found online if searched for with enough tenacity. Two of Zeck's pieces were shortlisted for inclusion in the second volume of the legendary Machine of Death. 

All the stories mentioned above started their lives using the methods in this course.