Thanks to movellas, one other movellian and I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview Scott Westerfeld, the bestselling author of the Uglies series that's been translated into 28 languages. He gave us a fascinating insight into all things writing, including top tips like the cure for all writer's block, the best parts of being an author, how to attract writing agents and the advice that's changed my approach to writing, forever.
But before that, some of you might want to know the advice Scott revealed at his Writing Masterclassin London. The following information is what Maire92 and I gained from the masterclass.
'Scott gave a very useful and informative writing masterclass at Waterstones Piccadilly on Saturday. He talked about what novels are best for in comparison to other forms of art, entertainment, media'.
1.The modern novel is best for demonstrating a point of view (POV), be it one individual's or a small group, which gives us empathy for different experiences. The writer must make this clear and certain.
2. With this in mind, he talked about how to avoid clichés when showing the viewpoint character. For instance, don't show your protagonist via a mirror! Everything your viewpoint character tells the reader must belong to them. Make sure they either know, can see or hear or notice something. The key here is consistency. Every action they carry out must make sense for that specific character.
3. In portal fantasies (when a character arrives in a new place/time/universe), the character doesn't know what's going on. This can be useful because reader learns alongside your character, and you don't have to bother with clumsy exposition.
4. When changing POV, remember to give the reader time to readjust. 90% of POV only changes at chapter boundary.
5. Characters are less fuzzy than real people. When writing you have to make it seem more real than real life, so things like coincidences don't work well -they're not believable as plot devices.
6. His most important tip to writers ? You must finish everything you start. You have to have as much practise finishing stories as you do starting them.'
7. Perfect character's aren't realistic. Characters should have flaws relevant to the story you're trying to tell.
8. We can learn things about characters through their observations. But don't forget, what character's DON'T know defines them just as much as what they do know.
9. Research isn't just about getting things right, but research that gives you a cool, new thing to happen is good research.
And finally, my favourite piece of advice that is just so true yet I didn't realise myself:
10. YOU BOND WITH A CHARCTER, THEY BECOME REAL, WHEN THEY ARE FORCED TO MAKE A CHOICE AND NONE OF THE CHOICES ARE GOOD e.g. in the Uglies series Tally had to choose between becoming pretty or betraying her best friend. Forcing someone to do something they don't want to do makes you connect with them. Make it so no choice is the right choice so the character is imperfect (and so the reader doesn't start to dislike your character).
In the next chapters, I'll publish the exclusive interview with Scott. All credit goes to him for the following questions, who was kind enough to share his secrets with us. I tried to ask him all the questions you wanted to know, so if you commented on the blog, you might recognise your question! Can't wait to share these with you all!