The keynote speaker at last weeks writing conference, The Book Academy, was New York Times Best-selling author Brandon Mull. He wrote the Fablehaven series, The Candy Shop War, and has a new series coming out soon, called Beyonders.
Since he became an author, he's become many more things. He's become a public speaker, a teacher, a reading advocate, an entrepreneur. He's in marketing. He's also a professional "liar", although he corrected himself and changed it to an illusionist. And maybe worst of all, he's become a murderer. He says it's amazing how many people come up to him disturbed, and demanding to know why he "killed so-and-so". I don't hold it against him.
Who knew that becoming an author meant doing so much more than just writing?
Brandon posed two questions that writers need to ask themselves.
First: What makes a story worth telling?
This is something inside you. You either have it, or you don't. You, the writer, has to love what you are writing. If it doesn't interest you, no one else will care either.
The Characters are the life of the story. The reader has to love (or hate) them. They can't just be there. We have to care! We need to get to know them. What do they do, how do they think? Show us their personality. Write characters you love!
What are the Relationships between your characters? Who are their friends? Family? Pets. What is the relationship between the "good guy" and the "bad guy"?
What kind of Trouble does your character get into? This is also called change/conflict, but Brandon likes the straightforwardness of the word trouble. There has to be trouble. There has to be conflict!
What Decisions will the character make? Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad. But they have to make decisions. They have to figure things out for themselves.
What are the Consequences of their decisions? There has to be consequences. Our characters cannot always get a free ride. (That would be boring!)
The story does not happen with the words on the page.
The story happens inside the mind of the reader!
Second: What is the best way to tell your story?
This is technique. Unlike the first question, where it resides inside of you, this can be learned. It's the rules of writing. It takes time. It takes effort.
Go to conferences. Join a critique group. Read books about writing. And maybe even more important than all of that:
Read a lot
Write a lot!
But the most important thing of all?
Write what you love!
During Brandon's speech I had to ask myself, what do I love to write? What do I love to read?
I love to laugh. I love books that make me laugh right out loud.
Lucky for me, the workshop I attended immediately after the keynote speaker was about
Using Humor in Writing!
Check back tomorrow for that post.