Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teen Author Carnival: Advice to Aspiring Writers

Katie wraps up our Teen Author Carnival coverage with a look at the panel on advice to all those who are interested in writing. 

I am in awe of people who write books. Pulling the perfect words to tell a story out of your head and putting them on to paper (or a computer screen) is no easy task, and so when I have the opportunity to hear authors speak, I make a point of filing away the tidbits of advice they offer for future reference.

The panels at the Teen Author Carnival were ideal for collecting these pearls of wisdom from people who had managed to accomplish this remarkable feat time and again. And it seems selfish to keep all this insight to myself, so here is a short recap below:

What to read when you’re writing...

Michael Northrop, author of Trapped (see our review here)
Michael reads nonfiction when writing his books. He finds that nonfiction helps him maintain his own voice and prevent other stories from creeping into the story he is trying to tell.

Carole Etsby Dagg, author of The Year We Were Famous
She spent an entire year reading only books and newspapers that her characters would have had access to in 1896 in order to get a better idea of the world they were living in.

Where to get story ideas...

Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and Dani Noir
She uses personal experience that she then twists and molds into a fictional story. For example, Imaginary Girls emerged from the discovery that the reservoir she and her friends swam in during high school once was a town that had been covered by the reservoir.

How to get started...

Amy Fellner Dominy, author of OyMG
Amy submitted a first page to a contest held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), meaning she just had to write one strong opening page and ta da! Contest winner. And suddenly there was interest in a possible book deal. SCBWI has multiple contests that may be worth investigating if you’ve started working on a manuscript.

How to stay on task...

Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Writing a strong first page or first chapter can open a lot of doors, but we all know that without a lot of other strong pages to follow, you don’t have much of a book. In order to keep her on task, Michelle’s 88-year-old grandfather would call her every other day asking for her latest word

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