Holly W – Writing Tips-GarthNix & BethRevis

Writing Tips from YA Authors- Garth Nix and Beth Revis

As part of the 2013 Shared Worlds Creative Writing Experience, Wofford College asked famous speculative fiction writers to send them writing advice written on their hands, and assembled it here. There’s a lot of really good advice there, presented in an interesting way. My favorite is above, from Garth Nix, author of The Abhorsen Trilogy, among many other things. All of it is good advice, (I particularly love the “obtain magic ring” side note!), but what really makes this one stand out is number four: Believe in your stories.

If an author doesn’t really believe in their story, if they don’t love it, if it’s not real to them, then it comes through. No matter how clever the concept or how pretty the writing is, if it’s not a story that the author believes in, then it’s just not going to work.

Beth Revis, author of the New York Times bestselling Across the Universe, explains this same concept in a Writing Teen Novels blog post. Before writing her tenth novel, she studied the market, decided on witches (vampires were overdone), added in the requisite love triangle, picked a cool monster, and, as she puts it:

“by God, I was going to get published.

…I was clever.

Too clever.

That was the book I wrote with the intent of doing everything right–and the result was that I did it all wrong. That book had no soul…And it was rejected soundly. So I sat down and decided to write something else. Something different. I didn’t care AT ALL about whether it was right or wrong. I only wanted to write the thing that I cared about writing.

That was the book that sold.”

Believe me, as an editor, working at a publishing house, I would love to find the perfect recipe for a bestseller, the magical combination of tropes and ingredients that will hit the market and sell a million copies. However, as a reader–and ALL editors are readers first!–I need a story that has heart. Something that pulls at my emotions, because the author has poured their own heart into it. Something that feels real, because the author believed in it SO much. And when you find it, it’s magic.

— by Holly West

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