Wednesday, August 27, 2014

So I Got Some Writing Advice From Author Holly Black

I recently got to sit down and talk to the amazing, best selling author Holly Black. It was a truly wonderful experience. Unfortunately, just by touching her sphere of amazing, I didn't automatically turn into a princess, a pixie, or a celebrated author, but I did get some good writing advice.

And since I've got this blog about writing, I figured I'd share some of that advice in hopes it helps some of you too.

I couldn't find any good pictures of Holly on the Creative Commons, but she has a great book titled White Cat, so I went with a picture of a white cat instead:

Photo credit to olavgg

Set The Scene With Description

Pull back and describe the scene before plowing headlong into the action or conversation. This description gives the reader her footing. Use this description to set the mood for the action that is about to happen.

Ex. Is this an ominous scene? If so, emphasize the shadows and the towering buildings or reaching branches.

Photo credit to Jyrki Salmi

Describe Through the Eyes of Your MC

Use description to show what is important to your character and what her station in life is. How your character sees the world can tell a reader a lot about her.

Ex. Is your character obsessed with clothes? Well, then she'll notice them. If she doesn't have the clothes she wants (maybe b/c her family doesn't have the money for them) she'll notice this and bemoan her fate.

Photo credit to Solarbotics

Follow The "Want Line"

Your main character (and, really, every character) should always have something she wants. It should be evident in almost everything she says/does. If everything your character does is aimed toward achieving her goals (even if those goals change), you amp up the tension and the reader wants to keep reading. Also, when the character does NOT get what she wants, it makes the scenes more interesting and builds sympathy.

Ex. (Sorry, this gets a little long, but it's a fun example.) Say your character's main goal is to have a sleepover at her house. For whatever reason, this hasn't happened, but now it's on the verge of happening, and she is SO EXCITED! The character's initial goal is to host this sleepover, which is sure to be the best sleepover ever. But then the book's plot gets in the way, everything goes to hell, and the sleepover's off. Her goals shift, but if you can later echo back to that goal, it adds a lot of interest. Maybe later everything is only getting worse, but it just so happens that she's having a sleepover with a friend while they plan to escape this hellish nightmare that they've landed in. And on some level she's actually still a little excited about finally getting to have that sleepover. That's payoff.

Not sure why, but I love this photo.
Photo credit to Tim (and Julie) Wilson

The Big Reveal

It's always nifty if you can add a Big Reveal.

Ex. "Luke, I am your father."

Photo credit to Stéfan


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