Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RTW: Best writing advice you've ever received

So...I thought this was going to be an easy question to answer, but when I actually sat down to write this blog post, I realized, not so much.

I attribute most of my writerly growth to an accumulation of advice--the little things like "watch out for passive sentences" to the big things like "be patient"--and it's hard to pinpoint one piece of advice as The One.

But then I remembered that there is a quote from J. K. Rowling that I really like. She said: "I wrote about characters I was deeply interested in."

It sounds so simple, so obvious, but I've had WIPs fizzle out before because I just wasn't into them. And it's not the plot that's the problem. Plot can be made more exciting. Getting bored? Explode something. Lock your MC in a cellar. Have someone get slapped across the face. You know, whatever.

But if you don't care about what happens to your characters, no one else will either.

So I don't know if I can honestly say I'd use that same piece of advice as my "best ever" if I wrote this post again tomorrow, but it's good advice nonetheless.

Visit YA Highway to see what my fellow highwayers wrote, and to post a link of your own!

And as a side note, if you'd like to see some of the craziness we get up to, and maybe join in with a little crazy of your own, see Kristin Miller's post from yesterday about the wonder that is produce.


Emilia Plater said...

I love it. TBH, my love for my side characters might come and go, but the MC will always have a vicegrip on my heart, & I think that's why I keep plodding away on this darn book. Awesome post, Kaitlin :)

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Great post. Even when creating a plot-driven piece, you have to have characters that fascinate you enough to want to stay in their company. Obviously, that's even more true for a character-driven piece. So it all starts with character! Thanks for the reminder.

Kirsten said...

So true! The best advice I've heard is something like that, too. But I love what you said here: "But if you don't care about what happens to your characters, no one else will either."

Kirsten Hubbard said...

So true -- I can't love a story I'm writing unless I've fallen passionately in love with my characters.

Veronica Roth said...

I like that quote! It reminds me of "write what you know," only it's "write what you love," which I think is better advice. Nice post, dahhling.

Kate Hart said...

Can I just cut and paste Vee's comment? Or say "ditto"?

Marilyn Almodovar said...

Excellent quote! You really have to fall in love with your MC and those close to the MC. Otherwise what is the point to write about something you don't feel passionate about?

sarahenni said...

I was talking to a woman who is the Book Recommendation Guru for a bookstore yesterday. When I asked her what makes her stop reading, she said, "When I ask -- who cares?"

If the author doesn't care, then who will??

Awesome post!

houndrat said...

So, so true--great post! You definitely have to either love (or possibly hate) your MC to stick with a story, I think.

I think I'd also add "don't give up" high on my list of advice. Because I feel like so many writers would never make it if they gave up after the first try.

Jess said...

If this were Facebook, I would "like" your post. Brilliant!

Takes me back to high school, when I would literally work on 5 or 6 WIPs at once. I'd get bored with one and start another without totally giving up on the first. But when I came up with the idea for the book I just finished, I stopped writing anything else. These were characters that meant something to me, and the story was one I could really relate to. I probably would have given up on this book if I didn't feel so strongly about it, and that's what kept me going for the 10 years it took me to finish it.

Great post!

Amanda Hannah said...

'Explode something'. LOL I might have used that tactic a time or two ;)
But this is spot on advice. You have to really be interested in the characters of your story. You have to want to know what happens as much as the reader will.
Nice post :)

Leila said...

I love this advice. Characters are everything to me. The ideas I fall in love with and end up writing are always the ones where I can't stop thinking about the characters.