May 14 – Write What You Don’t Know

The Prompt

Spend 15 minutes Researching Something On Wikipedia Then Write About It

Yeah, I know. The standard advice is to write what you know. It certainly saves on research time, but where’s the fun in writing what you know?

The Prompt

Spend 15 minutes Researching Something On Wikipedia Then Write About It


  • It could be a hobby: lapidoptery, stamp collecting, knitting, golf, scrapbooking, hill walking, skeet shooting, board games, cosplay… Soak up all you can about one way to practice the hobby, then write a story about somebody (or a group of somebodies) who are deep in the hobby. Maybe they’re meeting, maybe they’re preparing for a gathering, maybe they’ve just made a big, rare find, or conquered a difficult technique. Maybe they’re questioning their calling.
  • It could be a career, a period in history, a historical event, an astronomical phenomenon, a sport, or the story of how something was discovered/invented.
  • Use details from your research to color in the details of your story, but remember, you’re not writing a documentary.
  • Still focus on the universal truths of human existence (which is where the ‘write what you know’ or at least, ‘write what you want to understand’ advice comes in).
  • Since you want to include lots of detail of the hobby in the story, try to keep the main ‘plot points’ of the story simple: a conflict with another hobbyist; a first; a last; an epiphany; an arrival…
  • Don’t spend more than 15 minutes on your research. Read fast. Scan the page. Grab details greedily. Shape your story around one or two of them. But don’t spend too much time on your research!


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5 thoughts on “May 14 – Write What You Don’t Know”

  1. After a quick research, there was a single fact that ignited the plot of my story. I kept it very short sticking to my promise to redo the 100 word limit.
    Very interesting indeed !

  2. Wow, this was quite hard.

    In the end, I imagined that I was a steelworker building the Empire Sate building.

    My story became a bit disjointed, as I wrote in two or three sessions and it’s only about 700 words. Note to self – don’t do that for a short – keep writing till it’s done!

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