School and Writing

School is out for the summer in most places. So, that started me thinking. I did an interview for Jean BookNerd last year, and I talked about my school days, but also a few other things I thought you’d find interesting. So, I’m re-posting it here.

1. Greatest things you learned at school. 

* That I don’t like hamburgers that only contain 50 percent real meat.

* That sometimes how well I learn is directly linked to how the teacher teaches.

* That learning can be fun.

*That not doing well on standardized tests isn’t always a sign a of person’s IQ.

*Sometimes teachers are wrong.  I was told many times that if I didn’t get my head out of the clouds I would never amount to anything.  Amazingly, I make a living by spending a lot of time up in those clouds.

*Sometimes the cutest boy in the class isn’t worth wasting my time on.

2. Defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer.

There wasn’t one.  I’m dyslexic and I didn’t think I could be a writer.  I sure as heck couldn’t spell and left words out all the time.  It wasn’t until I was twenty-three that I realized that not everyone made up stories in their heads that lasted weeks and sometime months.  Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.  And I wasted it because I didn’t even realize it was probably my strongest talent.

3.  What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on Eternal?

61t6c3q2suL._SY346_Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  I know it sounds crazy, but I was certain Charlotte and Wilbur were in love. So, I think my passion of writing about two different species and showing them overcoming their differences might even come from that.

4. What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

The first thing you need to do is write and write a lot.  If you are really confused as to even what genre you should write, look at the kind of books that appeal to you. Do you love scary books?  Do you want there to be a romance in your book?  Which scenes in a book usually stand out to you?  Do you love those action scenes?  Then, look at the movies you enjoy.  Do you love comedies?  Do you love dramas that will make you cry?

Once you have the genre, then it’s time to think about voice and tone.  First tip is to write the story you want to write.  Do not try to write like anyone else.  Write like yourself.  I explain writing voice as a reflection of your personality.  It’s not just what you say, or what you do on those pages, it’s how you say it and how you do it.  If you are having a hard time figuring out what your voice is try writing the same thing in various tones and see which one feels right.  Let’s say you want to write a scene where a young girl takes a walk in the woods and finds a creature unlike anything she’s ever seen.  Try writing that to be funny.  Then, try writing it to be mysterious. Then, write it filled with lots of action.  Then, write it to be scary.  Try making it sad.  When you’re done with all these writing exercises, look at the one that felt more like you? Are there two that feel right?  Could you perhaps blend a little of the funny with the action?

Finding your voice can take time.  But you’ll only find it if you are writing. So, never stop writing.

So tell me, what did you learn in school? Are you an aspiring writer?


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