Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

With apologies to Freud — make sure you know your cigars


I’m sure you’ve heard that famous quote attributed to Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I don’t know the context of the quote, in fact I’ve seen suggestions that it isn’t even a legitimate Freud quote.

But as writers we really need to take it seriously, whether writing about cigars or Mexican freight wagons used on the Santa Fe Trail. (I’ve lost my research notes, but I once did some study on the various types of freight wagons used along that famous trade route by Mexican and “anglo” traders during the 1820s and ’30s.) Whether we’re writing fiction or non-fiction, we need to be as accurate as possible in our writing.

Of course, fiction writers have an advantage here — if we absolutely cannot achieve accuracy, we can make it up. But we cannot effectively make up anything unless we know enough to achieve “truthiness” or believability in what we’ve made up. Readers will quickly lose interest in your writing if it sounds odd or off the mark from what they know about the subject.

Strive for accuracy. Take time to research what you’re writing, or at least carefully plan out what you’re making up if it’s fiction, and achieve believability.