Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Susan May Warren (Advice for Novelists, Part 73)

Next up in my Advice for Novelists series, in which I ask authors, editors, agents and publicists the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

...is an author who's published several popular novels. Her advice:

First, I'm going to pass along something Dee Henderson said to me long ago: Find that one thing that makes you unique, and then become really good at it. For example I love contemporary romance, with a touch of suspense, and I lived in Russia -- so I took that combination and wrote a series of books set in Russia, and because I knew my topic so well, it came through in my writing and gave me a unique voice. SO -- make a list of everything that makes you "unique" and then see if any of those topics can be developed into a novel.

Secondly -- keep a writing journal -- a collection of phrases, and plotlines and characterization techniques and even titles that draw your eye and particularly touch you as a writer, and take the time to figure out why. This collection will shape and sharpen your own writing as you hone your voice, and your stories.

Finally -- don't get stuck on one project. Keep moving forward with story ideas, keep learning, and keep writing. (and write lots of things - newsletters, blogs, for your church, your family -- everything counts when you're honing your skills!) If you are faithful to be a good steward of the writing gift you've been given, God will use it!

--Susan May Warren, author of The Noble Legacy series, Mission: Russia series, and more. Visit her online at her website to learn more.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Great advice! I've heard so many people say, write what the publishers want, but I think this is the first time someone has said, Be unique. And I think it's good advice.

Pammer said...

I think you just changed my life. Or if that is too dramatic (I tend to be that way, lol) at least the course of my career. Thank you!


Crystal Laine Miller said...

I have written quite a lot(articles, columns, published book reviews) and analyze others' writing for editors and agents (freelance paid,) but I've been having a tough time knowing what I want to write in fiction--ME.

I am immediately going to take this advice because I really think this will work for my personality type.

I'm like Pammer--you may have just changed my life! (Or at least helped me to focus a broad spectrum.) Love both Susan's and Dee Henderson's books, too.

That unique voice for novels is hard to nail down (and I know because I help sort through manuscripts all the time.)

Good stuff!Thanks.

The Koala Bear Writer said...

I love the advice to "be unique." As I think back to the authors I read and like, that's definately something I can say about each of them. God created us us all unique and that's a gift! :)