Yesterday I attended the Shepherd University’s Writing Master Class, and it was awesome! I learned a lot from the three experts on panel. It was cool hearing insights from audience members. There’s nothing better than people having a passion for reading and discussing what works and doesn’t work in a story. Homer Hickam, the author of the book that inspired the movie October Sky, was the special guest. It was fun getting inside his head of what he believes makes good writing.
Here’s what I learned from Homer Hickam:
1. To be a good writer, you must be a good reader. Determine what about your favorite books makes you want to turn the page. Study and analyze why…
2. It’s not enough to just have an interesting idea for plot. The best hook is always characters. Readers are interested in people, so make your characters interesting, real, someone you’d want them to follow.
3. Make readers feel suspense about what will happen next for your characters. This is the only motivation for them to continue flipping pages.
4. Modern readers won’t stand for too much description because they’re used to action from movies and TV shows. At the beginning of your stories, you must do more showing and less telling. Have action and dialogue early on, so questions and hooks arise. Don’t put too much information upfront (info dumps and back stories).
5. All writers should be poets at heart.
6. You must evoke emotion out of your readers. If they become bored, they’ll stop reading your book at that very moment.
7. And last but not least, all stories have arcs. Writers can’t leave the story at the same level to the end. For example, a story can’t just be all dark and tragic. There must be some light moments to break up all that angst, so when the dark mood returns it’s better appreciated. Make it a emotional rollercoaster ride.
For all the writers/authors out there, is there any advice you’ve heard that has stuck with you throughout your writing career?