My suspense skills are just perfecto, aren't they? I amaze even myself!
Well, here and now I have a short Q&A with Jennifer Donnelly, the amazing author of A Gathering Light and 3 other books, for you all to read and enjoy! It's got some really interesting help on writing and such and is as interesting as interestingness and is marvy for becoming writers!
Here is is! Enjoy!
Why do you write?
I write because I love to create people and worlds with words. And because I feel a need to go back in time -- to the Adirondacks in 1906, to Paris during the late 1700s -- and change history, if only a little. To try to set something right.
What tips can you give to aspiring writers?
There’s only one thing that makes you a writer – and that's writing.
Writing – any kind of writing: journals, term papers, letters to your grandmother – will hone your ability with words. As you keep writing, you'll learn how to do more with less. You'll get a feel for simplicity and elegance, when to let rip and when to hold back, and how the subtle art of suggestion can lend incredible power to a paragraph or scene. These are all things I still struggle with. I have a tendency to overwrite, but when I do nail a scene, I can sense it, and it's a tremendous feeling.
Reading is also incredibly important. It shows you how other writers do it, how they succeed and where they fail. Whether it's a novel, a newspaper article or the copy on the back of a cereal box – it's all writing. Someone had to think about it and make choices. It's your job as a reader to decide how well the author did. You may not be aware of it, but every time you get lost in a story, or intrigued by a magazine article, you're also picking up pointers on structure, plot, and style. I couldn't afford to go to grad school, or take a workshop when I started trying to write, so I used what was available to me – good books.
Another crucial key to writing is finishing what you start. Lots of kids, and older people, too, tell me that they have so many stories started. Started is good. Beginnings are good. But you have to finish. Finishing is what makes the difference between ideas and books. Force yourself to sit down at your desk – glue your butt to your chair – and work through the problems. It's very important. It's very good discipline. It forces you to see an idea through from beginning to end and to do the hard work of bringing the various threads of the story together in a satisfying way. Do this and you’ll become more confident in your ability to tell a story. The problems of structure and plot and narrative drive may not get easier for you – they certainly haven’t gotten any easier for me and I’m on my fourth novel – but with experience and a bit of confidence, you’ll become braver about facing them…and besting them.
Lastly, listen to your own thoughts and feelings very carefully, be aware of your observations, and learn to value them. When you're a teenager – and even when you're older – lots of people will try to tell you what to think and feel. Try to stand still inside all of that and hear your own voice. It's yours and only yours, it's unique and worthy of your attention, and if you cultivate it properly, it might just make you a writer.
What makes you want to keep writing everyday?
The absolute joy that comes from creating stories.
Some of Jennifer's other novels are pictured below, including Revolution, her latest novel;
Thank you ever so much Jennifer, for answering my questions! It was great fun!
Keep Reading and Writing,