I've read that advice any number of times in books, on websites, heard it muttered by arr-teests beneath their pretty beret from smirking lips.
You've heard it, too, haven't you.
Don't use adverbs. Avoid cliches. Use punchy action words. No passives. No gerunds. Complete sentences. Write what you know.
And all that other parrot blah blah.
How is it a parrot can shit out both ends, anyway?
Beware the parrot. Don't stick your nose too close to either end.
Now what happens when you want to write something you don't know?
Tom Clancy never killed anyone using a sniper rifle or a knife or a pistol.
Anne Rice and that new chick with her Twilight series never raped or went oral on a vampire.
I'm sure of all that. How could they? I'm just as certain that Tom, Anne, and Ms. Twilight all fantasized about whacking, stroking, and mounting their characters, respectively.
That's part of how you write what you don't know -- you fantasize about it, endlessly, walking through the scenes, speaking with your characters, interviewing them, letting them live and act while you watch and take notes.
Add to that fantasy some research, or if it's a pure fiction, get on with some world building like Ms. Harley shows over at Labotomy.
Pack that fantasy on top of some research, tap it down and add a plug, then cock, fire, aim.
Or aim first. Doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure the best writers never aim at all. That's the only way you can hit the moon, see -- when you're not trying to.
Anyway. Here's me not aiming. I'm writing about a guy in, well, you guess where he is, but it ain't East Texas, and it ain't the Gulf Coast, and it ain't Austin or Dallas or Oklahoma or Arkansas or anyplace I could claim to know.
So I fantasized. I researched.
And I wrote what I don't know.
Take that, Parrot Boy.
The Yatiri's Sacrifice
The woman rose with her husband before dawn and while she baked the morning chocolates, he gathered their wares into a llama-skin pouch that he laid on the counter next to her baking rack. He disappeared outside into the morning darkness and when he returned he laid next to the sack two vests of llama fur. He caressed her back as she leaned into the oven. I am ready, the touch said to her, and with towels wrapping her hands she extracted the chocolates to cool on the stone countertop next to the llama-skin vests.
By the flickering light of the baking oven they ate a breakfast of bread and goat cheese while the chocolates cooled and the sun began to rise. They ate in silence, and when they were finished she cleaned his plate and laid it next to the sink with her own.
She wrapped her chocolates in a cheesecloth and twisted the corners around her left hand and took up on her right shoulder the pouch with their assorted stones and necklaces and llama-skin pads and llama teeth and wooden dice and a knitted blanket she had finished the night before. Her husband pulled a Fedora hat onto his head, hooked his left arm through the two llama-skin vests on the counter, and led her outside. She squinted against the morning sun rising, it glaring at her from between the mountains this time of year.
A walkway spanned the front of their house, and she and her husband would sit here in the evenings and blend with their stone house into the desert landscape, silently watching the mountains darken while she knitted or scraped a llama skin or played with her rocks, and he drank and shared his beer with her, passing it over every few minutes for her to sample. From the walkway hung wooden wind chimes and a torn Bolivian flag and three llama fetuses. Her husband unhitched a fetus from its drying hook and threw it over his shoulder. In his right hand he carried a wooden hiking staff topped with half a dozen Fedora hats.
They walked south with the mountains and the rising sun on their left cheek. Her husband removed from his pocket his chuspa, a pouch of coca leaves and handed her a pinch which she pressed between her lip and gum and sucked as they walked. Her mouth and tongue tingled where the bolear juice touched.
She walked near to her husband to share in his warmth, pulling closer to her chest her llama-skin coat. A tin cup they shared for water jangled against her pack. Hard desert rocks crunched beneath their feet. Her dozen necklaces kept time with the tin cup and crunching rocks by ticking against her breasts.
After a while, tin sheds began to rise up out of the desert landscape. A man stood inside his doorway smoking, watching as they passed. The woman and her husband nodded their heads and the man raised his hand.
A Volkswagen appeared and rattled them out of its way with its sputtering engine and turned between the houses and the sound of it bled into the city. Soon a truck passed, carrying men and tools in the flat bed, all of them dirty and cracked. They passed by a series of empty lots where already men and children played soccer, kicking the beaten ball against a wall decorated with wooden goalposts. A painted goalie held his hands to his sides, crouched, an amazing likeness on such a crude surface. The men dodged the boys and passed the ball, none of them laughing nor needing to when the ball slapped the wall inside the posts and bounced back into play and was passed downfield with a high arcing kick that sounded like a faraway gunshot.
They turned left after the parking lot and walked three more blocks, passing by a warehouse with cracked windows and stacks of boxes nobody cared to count or steal. Behind the warehouse in another empty lot stretched a single roof of patched and knitted tents of green and red and yellow and blue, one joined to the the other by tawdry strings, a long row of sails propped on rotting masts stagnant in the desert doldrums.
The woman and her husband nodded to the vendors as they passed, taking note of the empty shops. She glanced at her husband when they passed Huayna's shop and they shared a silent admittance that after all this time she would not return. A wooden cross had been laid on her table, atop a swath of llama fur.
They moved along to their stall, and in Quechua the woman greeted Evita and Julian, and their husbands nodded and Evita said, "I have something for you, my friend."
The woman and her husband took their place in the booth next to Evita and Julian and her husband hung the llama fetus on the hook in front of their shop and balanced his staff with its Fedora hats in front of their station and spread out the two llama-skin vests on the table. The woman slung her pack onto the table and opened her chocolates on the cheesecloth and turned to Evita, who was holding in her hand a necklace of orange and yellow beads.
"This is wonderful," the woman said.
Evita smiled. "From Joaquin and little Julian for their other momma."
"For my other children, my friend," the woman said. She laid a handful of chocolates on Evita's table and turned away before Evita could refuse the offering.
The woman pulled the necklace over her head and showed it to her husband. He smiled his toothless grin and kissed her cheek and pressed his hand to the necklaces on her bosom.