“And that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To move people by creating something that no one else has ever created and by putting words in an order that no one has or ever will again. That’s the crux of all of it.”—
“Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening. Look at a point of land over which the sun is certain to rise, Coleridge…
“I don’t like to throw characters into a plot as though it were a raging torrent where they are swept along. What interests me are the complications and nuances of character. Few of my characters are described externally; we see them from the inside out.”—Michael Ondaatje (via amandaonwriting)
I ran out of room... So the way I try to go about things is don't aspire. Just BE that thing. You're a director who hasn't made a movie yet, you're a writer who hasn't finished their first project yet. Aspiring leads to not following through in a lot of instances. I'm writing something now, I've never written a story before (Outside of like third grade). But I'm not an aspiring writer. I'm a writer. I might be a terrible writer, but I'm a writer all the same.
Yes! I absolutely agree and I love the way you put it. Thank you!
Every time I see the words “aspiring writer”, I sigh a little, because while I know what people mean when they say they’re an aspiring writer, I truly don’t believe the “aspiring writer” actually exists. (read more)
What do you think about the term “aspiring writer”? Have you ever defined yourself as one?
“Saying ‘I notice you’re a nerd’ is like saying, ‘Hey, I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?’ In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even ‘lame’ is kind of lame. Saying ‘You’re lame’ is like saying ‘You walk with a limp.’ Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he’s done all right for himself”—John Green (via nuper)
“The problem, of course, is that readers are all different. People are all different, although this little fact does not jibe with the modern view of us all as consumers, interchangeable widgets with standardized desires. The fact of the matter is that I can write a scene which one reader will find tiresomely blatant and on-the-nose, another will find shallow and themeless, a third will be utterly confused by, and which will make the fourth one cry with its pathos and cleverness. And moreover, I can write a scene that one reader will, over the course of a lifetime and four rereads, have all four of those reactions to.”—From a very smart post by Elizabeth Bear; go read the whole thing. (via gwendabond)
Hating a book is not unlike hating a person; in fact it’s tempting to just go ahead and hate the author personally, by proxy, qua human being, but I know that that would be a mistake. How often have I met and disliked writers whose books I love; and conversely, hated the books and then wound up liking the writer? Too often. Often enough that I’ve figured out that when I hate a book, it’s usually just a miscalculation or a lack of skill, on the part of the writer or on the part of me, rather than an actual character flaw within the writer. …
And then I stop and think: wait. Maybe it is just me. Maybe this book is perfectly fine. Maybe I’ve completely missed the point. Maybe other people will find joy and sadness and richness and beauty in this book, even though I didn’t. Maybe it really is a great book, and the problem is that I’m just not a great reader. Maybe it’s not the book, it’s me. Maybe the culture isn’t broken at all. Maybe I’m just wrong.
And I find that possibility perversely comforting.
“Learn to write by doing it. Read widely and wisely. Increase your word power. Find your own individual voice through practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words.”—P.D. James (via amandaonwriting)
When I do book signings, most of my line is made up of young girls with their mothers, teen girls alone, and mother friend groups. But there’s usually at least one boy with a stack of my books. This boy is anywhere from 8-19, he’s carrying a worn stack of the Books of Bayern, and he’s excited and unashamed to be a fan of those books. As I talk to him, 95% of the time I learn this fact: he is home schooled.
There’s something that happens to our boys in school. Maybe it’s because they’re around so many other boys, and the pressure to be a boy is high. They’re looking around at each other, trying to figure out what it means to be a boy—and often their conclusion is to be “not a girl.” Whatever a girl is, they must be the opposite. So a book written by a girl? With a girl on the cover? Not something a boy should be caught reading.
But something else happens in school too. Without even meaning to perhaps, the adults in the boy’s life are nudging the boy away from “girl” books to “boy” books. When I go on tour and do school visits, sometimes the school will take the girls out of class for my assembly and not invite the boys. I talk about reading and how to fall in love with reading. I talk about storytelling and how to start your own story. I talk about things that aren’t gender-exclusive. But because I’m a girl and there are girls on my covers, often I’m deemed a girl-only author. I wonder, when a boy author goes to those schools with their books with boys on the covers, are the girls left behind? I want to question this practice. Even if no boy ever really would like one of my books, by not inviting them, we’re reinforcing the wrong and often-damaging notion that there’s girls-only stuff and you aren’t allowed to like it.
I hear from teachers that when they read Princess Academy in class (by far the most girlie-sounding of all my books) that the boys initially protest but in the end like it as much as the girls, or as one teacher told me recently, “the boys were even bigger fans than the girls.”
Another staple in my signing line is the family. The mom and daughters get their books signed, and the mom confides in me, “My son reads your books on the sly” or “My son loves your books too but he’s embarrassed to admit it.” Why are they embarrassed? Because we’ve made them that way. We’ve told them in subtle ways that, in order to be a real boy, to be manly, they can’t like anything girls like.
Though sometimes those instructions aren’t subtle at all. Recently at a signing, a family had all my books. The mom had me sign one of them for each of her children. A 10-year-old boy lurked in the back. I’d signed some for all the daughters and there were more books, so I asked the boy, “Would you like me to sign one to you?” The mom said, “Yeah, Isaac, do you want her to put your name in a girl book?” and the sisters all giggled.
darn there was a word limit... ill just finish here. even though i think HG was a poorly written book.... i still find the story line and the characters amazing. Every book has it's own flaws or points and those shouldn't be put in the "bad books" category.
I agree. Ideally, I’d like to remove the “bad books” category altogether.
It bothers me that people look at Twilight and The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and even Fifty Shades of Grey and say things like, the garbage that people read nowadays, and this book will never stand up to x-classic, and it bothers me that there’s this belief that the books people enjoy reading now are somehow worth less than what people used to read.
I’m not going to try to tell you that Twilight was written with the same literary finesse as Great Expectations or Brave New World—that’s obviously not the case—but I truly don’t believe that makes it a lesser book, and furthermore, I don’t think that makes anyone who read Twilight and loved it a lesser reader for enjoying it. (read more)
What do you think about reading so-called “bad” books? Do you agree with the stigma? Why or why not?
“We use novels, not old newspapers, to get a sense of what life was like 100 years ago. I believe 100 years from now, future generations will still use novels the same way. They’ll use novels, not tweets or posts like this. And they’ll use the rich ones — the ones that have things to say things about culture and politics, the ones that absorb and synthesize.”—Robin Sloan, writing for The New York Times, on the future of fiction. (via jarrettfuller)
“In nearly all good fiction, the basic plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition, and arrives at a win, loss, or draw.”—John Gardner (via amandaonwriting)
“‘One more book’, he had told himself,’ then I’ll stop. One more folio, just one more. One more page, then I’ll go up and rest and get a bite to eat.’ But there was always another page after that one, and another after that, and another book waiting underneath the pile. ‘I’ll just take a quick peek to see what this one is about,’ he’d think, and before he knew he would be halfway through it.”—2005 George R. R. Martin (American author/screenwriter, 1948) ~ A Feast for Crows; via larmoyante (via petitpoulailler)
“There’s no such thing as ‘men’ or ‘women’. There’s only the individual character you’re writing. One guy emailed me asking me how to write women, and I couldn’t answer, because I had no idea which woman he meant: me? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Lady Gaga? If you’re thinking of ‘men’ or ‘women’ as a monolithic group defined primarily by their sex, then you’re not thinking of them as individuals; so your character isn’t going to come out as an individual, but as a collection of stereotypes. Sure, there are differences between men and women on average – but you’re writing an individual, not an average. If your individual character is chatty on the phone or refuses to ask for directions, that needs to be because of who he or she is, not because of what he or she is. Write the person, not the genitalia.”
After releasing the most fabulous tips you’ve ever read on how to become a Kindle bazillionaire (you’re welcome) I thought it only fair to share ten incredible secrets on how to become traditionally published.
You can thank me when you’re swimming in a pool full of Benjamins made completely out of your royalties. (read more)
Now it’s your turn to share your wisdom. What incredible tips would you add to the list?
“And once you realize you don’t need validation to find happiness, there is a wonderful world waiting for you - the world that lives inside your imagination. Treasure your imagination. Happiness is in there, and so is good literature. You don’t need to reminisce about childhood to find it. Unhappiness is not a requisite for good writing. You need to understand that you can be happy being happy - just allow yourself the chance.”—Nick Miller, Isn’t It Pretty To Think So? (via armonster)
“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”—Mark Twain (via writersrelief)
While it’s true that something like 95% of the time, that first novel will end up trunked and likely later be referred to as a practice novel, that doesn’t mean you have to mentally doom your first novel to be just a practice novel. (read more)
What thoughts and tips do you have on writing the first novel?
“That is my problem with life, I rush through it, like I’m being chased. Even things whose whole point is slowness, like drinking relaxing tea. When I drink relaxing tea I suck it down as if I’m in a contest for who can drink relaxing tea the quickest.”— Miranda July (via karanablue)