The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)
Some people would say that the best way to learn about new things is to experience them.I suppose that is true, but of all the activities there are in the world, one person will never experience them all…by doing.
So you are writing a novel and your characters are determined to go sailing. You really want to take them out on the deep blue sea, but alas, you haven’t a clue about sailing. Maybe you grew up miles from an ocean. Maybe you’ve never even seen a sailboat up close. Well don’t despair…the Internet is here. You can find all the pictures you want to browse through and you can read about sailing. You can go on sailing ventures with many a sailor and you don’t even have to leave your comfortable chair with your laptop.
You can write to people. Visit the ocean and talk to sailors. Listen and record their experiences. The most important thing you can do though is to ask questions. Be prepared before you go and have a list of what you want to know. You don’t have to know everything about sailing in order to write a few paragraphs in your novel, or even a chapter.
If your novel is totally about sailing or any other subject, then maybe you should get some experience. It will be ten times harder to come across as a writer who knows what they are writing if you are concentrating your total novel on that subject.
But most of us just want to write down a few pages where our characters are experiencing something maybe for the first time, or maybe they are seasoned. You can do it if you do your research first, and you might have enough information left over to use in another novel.
With my research on sailing I have used it so far in a short story Adrift No More, and in my novel Angel’s Blessing. And I enjoyed the learning experience so much that I do want to go sailing someday.
You will enjoy the experience even if you are only sailing on paper. Enjoy the sky, the birds, the wind, the overall feeling of sailing, and if your characters enjoy the ride and get something out of it, just hold your breath and hope your readers do too.
People read to experience new things. If someone enjoys your sailing experience through your characters, they might just decide to take a real sailing adventure of their own.
I have used sailing here to demonstrate my point, but it applies to anything your characters want to do. You will have a great time learning something new then applying it to your characters. If your characters can competently pass it on to your readers, everyone will benefit.
Enjoy writing and learning new things. Happy Writing and Reading everyone!