If you've ever read any "How to Write a Novel" webpages or books than you've most likely heard that writers do best when they write about what they know. I'd have to say that I do agree with that, but I didn't for the longest time. Here's why: I could write fairly decent scenes of sword fights, or tender love scenes, yet I've never been in a sword fight with a mortal enemy (thank goodness!), and I'm not in love. So, I discredited the statement to an opinion of some uptight, right-wing writer who wanted to dampen the dreams of a lowly teen writer who has much of their life left to experience.
However, I was wrong (gasp!). The truth of the matter is that I didn't understand what it meant to "write what you know". I believed, as I'm sure many of you do, that the only way to know about things, and emotions well, (as the statement suggests) is to experience them. The truth of the matter is that there are many ways for us to write what we know without actually experiencing the event or emotion. I came up with a list of some of the most effective ways to do just that.
This is by far the best thing to do, besides writing, to improve your writing skills. There are two things, other than the entertainment, that you should be thinking about when you read any kind of writing (fiction or non-fiction). A) Look at how the author using their vocabulary and arranging sentences. Do you find it effective, making you want to keep reading or is it boring and dull? Think about what makes it good or bad (are their metaphors and colourful words?) and apply it to your own writing. B) Learn something from it. Observe how characters in a novel act when they're in love, or some of the trials of being in a relationship. Whether it's about how to sail a ship, or the main character in the novel is doing Yoga, you can learn something. Thus, adding to what you know and what you can write about with skill.
2. Watch Movies, T.V., Videos on the web ect.
This is similar to reading, in the sense of learning something. When you watch some one doing something it makes it a lot easier to write a scene about it, because you can visualize it. An example, I watched the sword fights in Pirates of the Caribbean when I need to write one, so I can see how they carry it out and make it interesting. Again, you are adding to your wealth of knowledge.
3.Listen to People
Talk to people and learn about their lives. For example, if you've never been in love, talk to one of your friends or family members who is. This is especially helpful when you're writing a character's emotions. I know how hard it is, especially for a teen, to strike up conversations with people about events that have happened in their lives, and their emotions, but it's worth it. When you hear how people have dealt with things it real life than it brings that realistic feeling to your story.
Those are just a few ways to increase what you know and I know that there are many more. Feel free to comment with some of your own ideas to increase your knowledge. I urge you, don't fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to know about something is to experience it. Of course, experience in something is always desirable and one should take advantage of opportunities to do new things, but it's not the only way to write good scenes. So get out there and not only experience life, but read, listen, and watch it. Believe me, your writing will thank you!