It’s been awhile since we’ve had an edition of Writing Advice from Famous Authors. This time, it’s not just one author, but many bestselling authors speaking on a panel at SLCC (Salt Lake Comic Con). Let’s jump right into it with Frank Bedder, Platte F. Clark, James Dasher, Michael Jensen, Shannon Messenger, Jennifer Nielsen, and James A. Owen.
Here they are in late 2016:
“Go out and find your favorite book…that book that you were reading over and over again, the book that made you want to become a writer, get a fresh copy of that book and highlight every single scene that you love… Ask yourself why does this work?”
Jennifer Nielsen, Author of NYT Bestselling The False Prince
I love this advice. The key to Nielsen’s is advice is the final question. Why does this work? The goal is to understand why this book is your favorite. The goal is to understand why and how your favorite author did what she did. Once you know that, once you understand why you loved that book in the first place, you’ll know exactly what you want to write in your own book.
“I wrote [my book] thinking ‘I’m just going to write what I think will be funny for me to read to my kids.’ …That served me the best because I wasn’t true to anything other than my own voice and what I wanted to do.”
Platte F. Clark, Author of the Bad Unicorn Trilogy
The hardest and most necessary thing for an author to do, especially one that’s just starting out, is to find his voice. It takes painstaking work and it takes constant vigilance. Like Clark says here, you need to be true to your voice or the reader is going to see right through you.
“When I’m writing and I’m into it and I have a really good scene, I don’t ever finish it. I put it down at the end of the day so the next morning when I start writing again I know exactly what I’m going to start writing.”
Frank Beddor, Author of NYT Bestselling The Looking Glass Wars
I’ve never heard this advice before, but I think it’s a brilliant trick. How many times have you been so excited about a scene that you wrote and wrote and wrote well into the night? It’s amazing when it happens, right? But what about the next morning? It was hard to find that same vigor wasn’t it? Beddor’s advice gives you the perfect place to start your writing day when this happens. Most likely, it will give you renewed energy and excitement when you jump back into that scene the next morning too.
“Finish what you start.”
James A. Owen, Author of Here, There Be Dragons
If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times. The best trait a writer can have is perseverance. Don’t quit. Don’t write just half a book. Don’t write just a chapter. Finish what you start. Owen goes on to say, “No one ever writes a great book. You write a book that you can fix.” His point is that you can’t fix an unfinished book. You can’t get editor and reader feedback on an incomplete work. Finish what you start!
There’s some great tips from the other authors in there as well. Like Shannon Messenger’s reminder that if you’re writing YA, the kids need to be the heroes, not the adults. Or James Dashner’s advice that the characters in your stories are more important than anything else.
What advice did you find the most helpful? What advice did you hear and have that AHA moment?
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.