4 Things I Learned Writing IT’S NOT JUST SEMANTICS

In this post, I’m going to share with you the four things I learned while writing my contemporary romantic comedy, IT’S NOT JUST SEMANTICS.

The latest glowing review given to it made me reflect on how much research I did for the book, and how it paid off.

Review on It's Not Just Semantics

A few people might find it unbelievable. But a fictional work, like non-fiction books, also entails a lot of research to produce a cohesive, coherent story. 

In the process, the writer is made richer in knowledge and information—things which weren’t taught in school. 

The World of Auto Racing

First, there is F1. 

FYI, F1 is not a name of a boy band. F1 stands for Formula One, the highest class of single-seater auto racing owned by the Formula One Group of companies.

The Formula One World Championship season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix. There are twenty-five Grands Prix which are usually held in circuits around the world, the most famous of which is in Monaco.

Becoming a professional race car driver requires a lot of time, money and talent. Most racers start off with kart racing in their youth. They train by enrolling in a racing school, securing licenses, and some even get the services of a racing coach. Then they have to race and win at least three times within a span of two years to get out of novice status. After which, they either get a sponsor or team, or be propositioned by one. Gathering a pit crew is important at this point, because from then on, racers will sign up for big races.

A pit crew is composed of at least twenty highly-skilled men responsible for changing tires (which takes only seconds!) during pit stops, and do minor repairs and  adjustments. Each has a specific task to do using tools like wheel nuts and guns, jacks, and pit stop lights.


The world record for fastest pit stop is 1.82 seconds, held by Red Bull Racing and performed at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Probably the most valuable thing I learned in studying the world of racing is depicted in what Alex, the heroine in It’s Not Just Semantics, wisely realized.

I had the mistaken impression that racing isn’t really a sport, but a driving competition among the well-off who can afford the unbelievable costs of it. I thought that racing is just an expensive pastime of the spoiled rich, that racers just drive like crazy until they cross the finish line.

But racing isn’t just like that. Racing involves a lot of stamina, dedication, discipline and skill. Not to mention the crew of men who work hard and fast to help the racer win– or stay alive. 

Tetralogy of Fallot

You read that right. There’s really a term like that. And it’s not a joke. It’s a complex congenital heart disease, a birth defect resulting from a baby’s heart not forming correctly inside its mother’s womb.

Tetralogy of Fallot involves four defects of the heart and its blood vessels. It can be treated by surgery through widening or replacement of the pulmonary valve, enlarging the passage to the pulmonary artery and closing the hole between the two lower chambers of the heart. These will improve blood flow to the lungs and the rest of the body.

When there’s a rapid drop in the amount of oxygen in the blood, children with Tetralogy of Fallot experience episodes called “tet spells.” The symptoms are difficulty in breathing, becoming extremely irritable, or even faint.

Byron, the heroine’s nephew in It’s Not Just Semantics, has this ailment. It has a significant part in helping Rome, who turned his back on his first profession, come to terms with himself. He was a heart surgeon before he switched to racing after his then-fiancee died under his scalpel.

It's Not Just Semantics Book Mockup

Celebrity Personal Assistants

Rome, the hero in this book, is a celebrity of sorts, being a third placer in a Formula One world championship race–a no mean feat. But a scandal resulting from his playboy lifestyle caused Kazuki, a fictional Japanese racing team, to not renew his contract and may ban him for life.

Ergo, a personal assistant is needed to clean up his image and bring him back to glory. It came in the person of a smart-mouth, willful and pretty Alex with dimples on both her cheeks.

I had a lot of fun reading about PAs. Some of the things I learned came from gossip columns about real-life Hollywood celebrities. Uh, have you heard about Kim Kardashian and Beyonce Knowles?

Although their job description specifies managing communication, overseeing schedules and handling client representation, a celebrity PA is on call 24/7 and may be tasked to do laundry, read mail, pay bills, grocery shopping, and even dog walking–even cleaning and cooking. It’s not an easy job, but someone’s got to do it!

And yes, the job pays high, plus the perks and unique opportunities that come with it can make it highly rewarding. 

In It’s Not Just Semantics, Alex needed the sky-high salary as a PA offered to her by Gaia, Rome’s sister, to be able to save enough for Byron’s operation which costs more than a million pesos. 

Yep, that’s the only reason why she put up with Rome. Rather, what she kept telling herself why she put up with him.

Job = high pay = savings = Byron’s operation.

It’s not because her boss was strikingly handsome with brooding brown eyes, had a heart of gold for his pit crew, and was wonderfully patient with her nephew. And oh, yes. Definitely not because of his heart-stopping, mind-blowing kisses. No, no, no.

Wonderful Marinduque

In addition to these, I also researched about the Philippine islands, particularly Marinduque. The things I learned made me love my country more.

Palawan has always been referenced in many stories, but do you know that Marinduque is called “The Heart of the Philippine Islands?” 

The shape of the provincial island is similar to that of a human heart. Its location on the arrangement of the archipelago is also similar to the anatomy of where the heart is, in the human body. Refer to the image below. Isn’t it incredible?

Aside from this, there are beautiful islands surrounding Marinduque. 

I picked one of the Tres Reyes islands in Marinduque’s southwest portion to be my inspiration for La Natividad Island, the estate owned by the siblings Rome and Gaia–and the setting for the series.

There you go. Those are the things I learned while writing It’s Not Just Semantics. 

I had a lot of fun writing it, too, because of my characters. 

Alex is a thirty-year-old near-spinster whose morally uptight relationship standards clash with Rome’s seemingly loose moral behaviour, resulting in their word clashes and banter exchanges.

Rome, of course, is the thirty-four year old near-has-been champion race car driver and a former doctor in constant battle with his guilt over the death of his fiancee.

And Gaia. . . oh, it was so fun writing about her being an enabler in this romantic comedy! She was funny and bossy and sisterly.

But I have to tell you this: her story’s next, and it is full on angst. It’s what I’m currently writing. Wait for it? 

Importance of Research in Writing

Research is one of the things I like most about writing. Story ideas crop up in my mind and as I start to develop it, I find that I need to know more about things relevant to my story. 

Done properly and concisely, research helps any fictional story to be believable and relatable to the readers.

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