Louise Hawes: I often spend months (sometimes years) filling a notebook with my character’s responses and thoughts before I begin writing an actual draft. That notebook is all in long-hand, as you know, and I don’t stop to edit or erase anything. My characters’ letters are in the first person, and result from a fluid, bodily connection from my heart to my hand to the page. In contrast, my draft will be typed on a laptop, the far less spontaneous product of me thinking and feeling my way into a story that features the character whose voice has already filled my notebook.
By setting up a compelling story question in the reader’s mind, and then increasing the stakes throughout the second act, Joanna Ho has crafted the perfect crisis with its excellent Irreconcilable Goods options.
Sometimes when writing, we know what our character wants, but it’s a struggle to turn the nebulous desires into something tangible, something attainable, something concrete. Here’s how.
The Heroine’s Journey celebrates the gifts of the matriarch. It explores themes of family, community, collaboration, cooperation, and love. As an author, and as a person, it’s important to me to write books that support those values, so everyone who reads them can be inspired to evolve toward a more feminine, collaborative, resilient society. To illustrate the points I make in this post, I’ll be examining the Heroine’s Journey of Elin in The Beast Player, a Japanese YA fantasy by Nahoko Uehashi. Elin’s story is an excellent example of the Heroine’s Journey.
In order to understand how a heroine grows into her superpowers, I followed the heroine’s journey closely in three movies: Elsa in Frozen, Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Meg in A Wrinkle in Time. I identified a common pattern for a superheroine’s recognition of and acceptance of her superpowers. Then I applied what I learned to analyze CeCe Rios and the Desert of Souls, a middle grade novel by Kaela Rivera to translate what I found in films to what might work in a novel.
Good mysteries are fun because they keep the reader guessing. One of the most important keys of writing a mystery is writing the story so the reader can try to solve it. Nothing’s more annoying than not being given clues to solve the mystery unless those clues are so obvious that there is no real mystery to be solved. The best way to achieve both goals is to give quality clues but constantly keep the reader guessing so they don’t recognize the clues for what they are.
A compelling mystery must engage the reader in solving the mystery, and the best ways to do so are to 1) start the mystery off quick, 2) capture attention with consequential stakes, 3) increase tension, 4) keep the reader guessing, and 5) finish strong.
If you’d like a lesson in the unexpected you’d be hard-pressed to find a better model than Losers. Instead, we’re going to look at how despite (or with the assistance of) all the silly, Heider is able to put an ache and a depth into the stories of Winston and Louise.
“The biggest leap for me in my writing life happened when I got comfortable with failure. I wrote some disastrous things in grad school. But before that, my writing had gotten stagnant because I was too anxious about getting it right all the time. Allowing myself to fail gave me the freedom to take risks and make mistakes. Those mistakes, in turn, taught me how to write the way I want to write.”
“I understand more clearly that an outline need not be a construct that dominates my writing, a rigid form that must be adhered to, but it can be a tool to help manage what I write, to help me not get distracted or sidetracked, and instead work toward my goal–even if that goal isn’t completely clear to me as I shuffle, twist, and rearrange things on the page, the way I am prone to do.”