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This blog was featured on 10/11/2018
Writing Tips from Bestselling YA Writers
Written by
She Writes
October 2018
Written by
She Writes
October 2018

Teen Read Week is officially here and we wanted to get inside the head of bestselling young adult writers. We’ve compiled some of our favorite writing tips from authors who have found great success in their careers. Learn more about what it takes to write a compelling story with a timeless feel.

J.K. Rowling on Writing Time

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave into endless requests to have "essential" and "long overdue" meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must, therefore, guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

Get more writing tips from J.K. Rowling here.

Angie Thomas on Writing About Trauma

“Writing in response to trauma is cathartic for one. It allows the writer to release those emotions. When those emotions are fueled into our writing, our readers have no choice but to share them to some extent as well. That, to me, is how empathy is born. Empathy is more powerful than sympathy, and if we put ourselves into those traumatic situations through books, maybe we’ll walk away changed and maybe we’ll walk away with an urge to change things.”

Read the full interview here.

Jenny Han on Observing the World Around You

"I have probably 12 notebooks. I have little ones in my purse at all times so I could jot down ideas. I think I’m constantly being inspired just by living in New York and you see all kinds of people every day. From the subway where people come on and people come off, and you just observe people and you can get an idea from everywhere. I got an idea one time being at the dentist's office, two sisters were in there and I just watched their relationship and I just felt inspired to write a story about sisters just by looking at them. So I think it’s just about being open and being an observer and jotting it all down. And I usually write by hand first before I put them on a computer. I think I feel more freedom writing by hands because you can cross stuff out and do stuff around."


Read the full interview here.

Suzanna Collins on Writing What Fascinates You

“A lot of people tell writers to write about what they know. And that's good advice because it gives you a lot of things to draw on. But I always like to add that they should write about things that they love. And by that, I mean things that fascinate or excite them personally… And if you write about things that you feel passionately about, it is so much easier to write.”

Read the full interview here.

Veronica Roth

In the rough draft, just throw everything in. When you’re done, you figure out what the story needs and what the world needs. Take all the ideas and trust that you will have enough for the next story that you want to write. That’s how stories work, right? They’re like a mountain. They build, build, build, build, build, reach a peak, and then like decline. I don’t think it needs to be so strict, but it does help me… A lot of people get stuck in their story and they can’t finish a rough draft, and that’s really hard because you can’t fix something that isn’t there. So you need it to be done first… That’s my first piece of advice.”

Read the full interview here.

Becky Albertalli’s Top Five Writing Tips

  1. Read whenever you can, and especially read in your genre. Play favorites with books. Let them have an emotional impact — and then try to analyze what did and didn’t work for you.

  2. Observe your environment, and especially observe the people around you. Eavesdrop on strangers. Study speech patterns. Be wholly honest with yourself about your own thoughts, wishes, fears, and fantasies.

  3. Write a lot, even if you never plan to show your work to anyone. Keep your old work so you can see how much you’ve improved just from practice.

  4. Meet other writers. The Internet is great for this. I actually didn’t do this, for the most part, until I had an agent and a book deal — and I wish I had joined the community sooner.

  5. When you’re ready to consider submitting a manuscript for publication, research like crazy. Learn which agents represent your kind of work, and learn the proper channels through which to submit. Be kind, appreciative, and humble.

Read the full interview here.

Victoria Aveyard on the Writing Quotes She Relates To

“I’m going to knock off all the great quotes that my screenwriting professors told me. “Just finish.” Even if it’s just a note to end a chapter, by the time you get there you will have figured out how to fix that one problem. A little distance does wonders in terms of writing and this is really helpful in screenplays in particular. “The spider doesn’t know what part of the web will catch the fly.” Write whatever you want all over the place because something will hit. And “try to get the audience to believe one unbelievable thing.” So I tried my best just to change one thing and make the rest of the world work with that.”

Read Victoria Aveyard’s full interview now.

Marissa Meyer on Modernizing Pre-Existing Stories

“Today, characterization trumps all.  Well, you still need a good plot, but what did we really know about Cinderella, besides the fact that she wanted a better life?  What were her quirks, her bad habits, her fears? And surely she must have had some negative thoughts about her mean sisters. In Marissa’s adaptation, we are drawn into Cinder’s world through the eyes of a character we can associate with, a fighter, an independent thinker, someone with imperfections like each of us, not to mention you can’t get any more modern than a cyborg!  Make your characters relatable to those of us in the 21st century.”

Read more tips from Marissa Meyer here.

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