Today on the Author Spotlight, it is my pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Kirke:
Thanks for having me! I'm Elizabeth Kirke, author of More than Magic: Semester Aboard. As most of these interview questions were about writing, I'm going to talk a bit about some writing tips that I feel made me a better writer.
It's OK to Walk Away
Sometimes when I write, the words just flow. When the characters speak to me I can do an entire chapter, if not more, in a single sitting. Other times...I just sit. Those are the frustrating times. Sometimes I have it planned out. I know where the story is going. Sometimes I even know the next sentence. I just can't get it there! It's maddening. I don't always practice what I preach and sometimes I don't walk away, I force the chapter out. It's never as satisfying to sit back and think Finally! I'm finally done with this awful chapter! than it is to be pleased you've finished one.
My beta-readers always catch it too. They never fail to say, "This transition is a little abrupt" in all of the places where I forced myself to keep writing. Those chapters always need more editing.
So, it's ok to walk away. If you just aren't feeling it, don't force it. Don't be afraid to set it down and go do other things. Don't constrain yourself with a goal to finish the chapter today or to write 2000 words. They say a picture is worth 1000 words, right? I say that 100 well written words are worth 1000 as well.
Write Every Day
You hear that one a lot, but it doesn't have to be the same project! I do believe that the more I write, the better a writer I become. However, you aren't doing yourself any favors by churning out crap. If something isn't speaking to you, go write something else. Doesn't matter what. Just keep your fingers and your mind working.
I, personally, would write background information whenever I was stuck on a chapter. I ended up with pages and pages of magical history and trivia, and in-depth backstories for my characters. Which, brings be to my final point:
Meet Your Characters
I see a lot of reviews of Semester Aboard that mention my attention to detail and characterization. Readers feel like they know the characters, like they're real. I credit that entirely to my aforementioned habit of writing background information. You need to know your characters inside and out.
Ever read a book or see a movie and think Oh, my friend Sarah will love this! or My sister would hate this! How do you know? You aren't your friend or your sister. You don't know what they're thinking. But you were right, weren't you? Your friend did love that book and your sister walked out of that movie. It's because you know them. You know their likes and dislikes and personalities so well, that you have a very good idea of how they would react to something. It would be like that with your characters.
Your goal should be to get to a point where someone can say something random like, "What pizza toppings do your characters like?" And you should just know. You shouldn't have to sit and think, Well, I want Johnny to like pepperoni and I want Jane to like veggies. Your characters should, in a sense, tell you. You should just know from their personalities what they'd like. And you should develop that skill until you can answer every question thrown at you as if your characters were real people. In the end, it helps with everything. Your novel will come to life, because if you see your characters as real, so will your readers.
Thanks for reading! Here's a little blurb about my book for you:
Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study abroad program and has loved every moment. She just left Mexico and is back on her cruise ship campus, ready to sail to Panama. Everyone tells her that the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how drastic the change will be.
One night she goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes and he's a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife Mariana live right down the hall from Jen. And she has seen TS, who's built like a truck, around the ship and recognizes the cute, but quiet Thomas as well.
Then Jen sees something that isn't humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream, if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal and Jen is determined to figure out what they're hiding.
When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying new worlds, but she never dreamed she'd learn about a magical one. Or find herself in it.
But Jen's childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there's something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it!
Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/More-than-Magic-Semester-ebook/dp/B008B0AHOU
Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Magic-Semester-Aboard/dp/0985538554
Thanks so much Elizabeth!
Next Week in the Author Spotlight: Dawn Gray