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Category: Writing

The Secret to Writing a Character (That You’d Want to Read)

I’m reading Saoirse’s copy of A Wrinkle in Time before we see the movie next month (that’s not an ad or anything–we just really want to see the movie). She passed it off to me with an, “It’s good, Mom. I think you’ll like it,” and she’s right. I’m not a big fan of fantasy books, children’s or otherwise, but with this one the characters have drawn me in. It’s always about the characters. Women’s fiction writers are big on character: character-driven stories are cherished over plot-driven, the emotional struggles explored more than the external ones. All the Difference was quite obviously this kind of story–those big cartoon engagement rings on the cover will tell you that–but what’s funny is that I never really read a lot of women’s fiction before I realized I was writing it. And it’s because, when I sat down to read, I was looking to escape to a character who–while possessing some qualities with which I could…

Because the Best Writers are the Ones Who Stopped Thinking

The writing has been tough for me this winter. I’d been on a roll, but then suggestions from my agent stopped me in my tracks (her suggestions were spot-on. It’s just that when anybody else expresses an opinion about a project early in I tend to shut down for a couple of days. I’m sure that’s totally normal). Then when I got rolling again, I started working with a writing craft book that, while super helpful with technique and plotting, completely took me out of the story. My writing became less about the characters than it did about what I could DO with the characters, if that makes any sense. Basically, I was thinking too much instead of acting on instinct, and everybody knows that thinking too much is the best way to make sure no actual doing happens. So, that was strike two. And then Christmas happened, and then a website overhaul, and then…well, here we are. I’d been in and out of the story so inconsistently that for a while I felt like I’d struck out. I was on the DL. I&#8217…

This is Just a Giant Paraphrase of “Eye of the Tiger”

  On Thanksgiving I was talking with my Aunt Michelle, an avid, self-published writer, when she said something about the work that took me by surprise: writing is her way to relax. Michelle hustles like nobody’s business, but she cheerfully told me and my mom that she sees writing as her hobby, an activity she turns to as a reprieve from everyday life. She was smiling as she said it. Writing, to my aunt, is absolute joy. As for me? Well, I stood there listening to her while something like gruff shame flooded my body.Writing is her joy. Let me process that for a moment. I have never, ever approached any kind of job with a sustained feeling of joy. Yes, there was the thrill of seeing my name on a masthead when I began working for a big national law book publisher. I loved taking the train into and from the city each day (though I do remember vowing that if I were still taking that same train twenty years from now something had gone very, very wrong). I really enjoyed teaching, too, but the whole truth is that every single morning I would sit…