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Anxiety over unfamiliarity?

For those of you who are nervous about creating scenes and getting them on paper with absolutely no familiarity with the character, the character's occupation, his setting, his world, there is a quick solution. YouTube. Yes, YouTube.

For most of you, the setting and the world of your characters is one you have selected because you are either familiar with it or you feel confident you can pull it off. What often throws you is worrying about the scene that is not something you are familiar with.

You might be writing a contemporary novel about a girl who lives in a small American town. For most of you, this wouldn't be a problem. But say there's a scene where she has to meet her classmate at her classmate's father's workplace. And suppose he is a welder. Panic sets in. You don't know anything about welding, welders, or the world of a welder.

You have two choices. You can stop writing, get in your car and talk to people about welding — a VoTech instructor in welding at the local community college or high school, a local welder at his shop, etc.

Just imagine how much time this will take when all you need is to write a scene where Character A meets Character B at her father's place of business. After all, you are not writing a novel about the "Rocky" of the welding world or "Alice in Acetylene" or some other welding world based novel. You are simply writing a single scene that takes place in a setting you are not familiar with. This is the cause of your anxiety.

Well, put your keys away. Fire up your Internet browser, go to and type in "welding" or "welders" and watch what the search turns up for you. Watch a couple of the small videos. You will soon realize that you can see a welding shop in your head, you have an idea what tools the welder uses, you suddenly know the terms welders use, you learned about what he wears, and you can see all of the apparatus that will make your scene feel authentic.

You can do all this mini-research quickly, and you never even need to get out of your pajamas.

Give it a try. Search for "brain surgeon," or "truck driver," or "stockbroker," or "counterfeiter," or "state trooper." Watch one of the videos and notice the sudden rise in your understanding and ability to visualize scenes in the lives of these characters.

This trick is an excellent source of confidence.