The Divining Wand

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More Authors, More of their Best Writing Advice

April 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Two weeks ago, several of our authors/friends shared words of wisdom that help guide them through the writing process. And, in today’s post, those who have yet to be heard from, respond to:

What is the best advice about writing that you’ve received/read AND put to use?

Emily Winslow (The Whole World coming May 25, 2010):

“Things have to HAPPEN.

“My natural inclinations are toward character, premise and theme. I resisted plot. I hated limiting everything that could possibly happen to one measly thing that does happen.

“But it must be so. Things have to happen. Once I got that through my head, things started to work out for me.”

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars, The Life You’ve Imagined coming August 17, 2010):

“My critique partner and friend, the talented British writer Eliza Graham (PLAYING WITH THE MOON, RESTITUTION, upcoming JUBILEE), advised me to sometimes hold off on a revelation and increase the tension by making the reader wait for the whole truth. I used to have a tendency to raise a question but then immediately answer it. Much more dramatic — and realistic — to let the answer emerge gradually.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness coming May 3, 2010):

“Nora Roberts says something like, ‘”I can edit a lousy page but I can’t edit a blank one.”‘ Even before I heard it, I was living it. Putting one foot in front of the other, or one word after another – it’s what being an author is all about.”

Jessica Barksdale Inclan (Being With Him, Intimate Beings, The Beautiful Being):

“I took a couple of classes from Anne Lamott, who wrote Bird by Bird, one of the best writing books ever. She told both classes, ‘”300 words a day, and in a year, you have a novel.”‘

“That’s it. 300 words a day, and maybe it’s a draft, but it’s done. And 300 words are completely do-able, and I most often find myself writing more.

“Simple and it works.”

Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA):

“Before I was published I took a writing course. I was worried about sending my writing out into the world because I was worried about rejection. The teacher sat me down and said. ‘”What do you have to lose? You’re already not published- the worst that will happen is that you still won’t be published.”‘ It was then I realized that I had more to lose by not trying than I did by giving it a shot.”

Carleen Brice (Orange Mint and Honey, Children of the Waters):

“The best advice I received was: ‘”Stop writing. It’s time to send the book out into the world and let it take it’s lumps.”‘ That was the best advice because I would probably still be “polishing”‘ my first manuscript otherwise!”

Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“Write beyond the closed door.

“I think for every one of us who sits down to write – there is a little voice that says: what if my mother/father/boyfriend/grandmother/husband reads this? What will they think about me? When we do that the scene stops. It’s like we reached the closed door at the end of the hallway and said, okay. It’s locked. I give up.

“To really write honestly we have to open the door and write the scene that makes us squirm even if it doesn’t end up in the final draft – you still have to allow yourself to go there. I think I did that in The Summer We Fell Apart and that’s what made the difference. I opened myself up fully to those characters knowing that in some ways they would be very controversial. The best thing about that? I’ve received wonderful letters from people who share their stories with me because they’ve experienced something similar to what the characters in the book have experienced. That is an AMAZING feeling.”

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Announcement: The winners of Eve Brown Waite’s memoir, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria, are Suzanne and Trish. Congratulations! Since you’ve both won in the past, your mailing addresses are on file and the books will be sent out promptly. Many thanks to everyone who entered.