Dedicated reader Catherine recently asked me some questions that I thought would be cool to answer here.
What do you find is the easiest thing about writing?
Coming up with ideas! Seriously, I have a notebook with plot ideas for my next many books. The hard part is getting all of those ideas down on paper in a way that doesn’t totally suck. Most days, I can write pretty easily. But on days when I feel sad or there’s some sudden crisis to deal with, it’s a lot harder for me to write. I might not even meet my writing goals on days like those. Fortunately, most days are happy ones.
Do you have any advice to create the character that you feel is most real to life?, without seeming to cliche.
You have to know your characters really well in order to write a convincing story. The story has to breathe with the life of each character. When I begin a new book, I always have a new notebook to go with it. I use two pages of the notebook to describe each main character in detail. Some of those details might never appear in the book, but that’s okay.
After recording a character’s physical description, home life situation, characteristics and mannerisms, I’ll move on to things like what she eats for breakfast, how her wardrobe looks, the way she wishes her hair would be, her most embarrassing moment in middle school, favorites, stuff like that. When you know your characters as well as you know your good friends, your book will come alive with their personalities.
What is the most difficult thing about writing?
Removing an excellent scene that’s just not right for a particular book. Sometimes I can use the scene in a different book, but other times I have to let it go.
Where did the inspiration to write when it happens, come from?
The story was based on my own experiences during senior year of high school. There was a boy. And then there was another boy. Tobey is actually based on a real boy who I went out with senior year. I wanted to create the ultimate boy character who everyone would fall in love with, so that was the inspiration for developing Tobey. Sara and I have some similarities, like how we’re both organization freaks and into scrapbooking. So I guess the inspiration came from the desire to tell a story that had been burning inside of me since high school.
What made you write from different view points? And do you have any advice to help write from a guy’s point of view?
When I was a teen reading the limited supply of good teen novels that were available back in the day, they were all told from the girl’s point of view. I always wondered what the boy was thinking and talking about with his friends and doing when he was alone in his room. Not knowing the whole truth about the main boy character in each book really bothered me. I told myself that if I ever wrote a young-adult novel, I would tell both sides of the story by using both the girl’s and boy’s points of view. I’ve done this in both When It Happens and Take Me There.
The more you know guys and hang out with them, the easier it becomes to create a realistic boy character. I gravitate towards sensitive musician types who are passionate about life, so my main boy characters are not representative of the typical teen boy. It’s important to remember that we’re all human and we all feel the same emotions, the same pain. We all want to be loved. So I like to focus on universal themes when I’m writing to make the boy’s point of view sound realistic.
Q&A is fun times! Feel free to send me some of yours anytime.