About PAPER HEARTS: Fight the blank page.
When it comes to writing, there’s no wrong way to get words on paper. But it’s not always easy to make the ink flow. Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won’t make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.
Practical Advice Meets Real Experience
With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:
-How to Develop Character, Plot, & World
-What Common Advice You Should Ignore
-What Advice Actually Helps
-How to Develop a Novel
-The Basics of Grammar, Style, & Tone
-Four Practical Methods of Charting Story Structure
-How to Get Critiques and Revise Your Novel
-How to Deal with Failure
…And much more!
BONUS! More than 25 “What to do if…” scenarios to help writers navigate problems in writing from a NY Times Bestselling author who’s written more than 2 million words of fiction.
What prompted you to write and publish PAPER HEARTS? Tell us everything!
Honestly, I’ve been writing Paper Hearts for ages, even before I was published. I used to be a teacher, so story structure, grammar, literary criticism—these are things I love. And I love teaching. I started with blog posts, often in answer to questions. When I had a lot of blog posts on writing done, I realized it was a little unwieldy, so I moved it to WattPad. After the posts there starting reaching more than 100k reads and people asked me for print copies, I began to seriously look into what it would take to get this book to my readers.
This isn’t going to be a good book for everyone. But it’s exactly the kind of book I wish I had before I was published, so I’m very happy with it.
Writers are always looking for advice, and there’s a lot out there. What’s different about yours?
My favorite chapter in the book is called “All Writing Advice Books Suck, Including This One.” I really hate it when advice books that deal with something subjective like art or writing present an attitude that “this is the only way to do it.” That’s very damaging to authors, and honestly just terrible advice. But by its nature, writing advice books do present solutions and give practical methods to do things, including mine. But I wanted to make it extraordinarily clear that there is no one right way to write, and that it’s entirely possible that my advice is the wrong advice for you. I just present the methods that have helped me, and try to point people in the direction of methods that can help them.
What’s a piece of your advice that you constantly take yourself?
Live. Growing up, I was very much a Hermione Granger type person. I studied hard and often. And I approached writing that way, too. I locked myself in my room and wrote until my fingers ached.
But that often meant that I was missing out. Missing out on family and friends time, missing out on the latest movies, missing out on adventures. It took me a long time to realize that practice is important, but discovering the stories in your life is more important. Go out. Have adventures. Try something new. Discover new ideas. Yes, you absolutely have to write at some point. But don’t forget to live.
PAPER HEARTS is part of a fun and fascinating publishing journey. Give us a glimpse of your path so far, and where you’re going next.
I wrote my first novel as a sophomore in college. It was horrible. Basically fan fiction, derivative and not very well done. I sent it out to agents because of course I thought it was brilliant. Surprise, it was rejected soundly.
So I wrote another novel and sent it out too. And then another. And another. I wrote ten novels over ten years, and none of them got me an agent, much less a book deal.
And then I wrote one more. It was weird. I never thought it had a chance. But I loved the idea.
That book was Across the Universe. It got me an agent—my dream agent, actually. And it got me a book deal for the entire trilogy, the kind of deal that changed my life. I was able to quit my job and making writing my career. So I was an overnight, decades long success.
Since then, I’ve been diversifying my career. I self published a book that wasn’t a good fit for Penguin’s catalogue but was something that I felt my fans wanted. The Body Electric came out last year, and it was so eye-opening to self publish. Since then, I’ve put out some short stories, in both traditional and self publishing format, and I’ve written another novel for Penguin, A World Without You, which will come out in July 2016. I’ve got another book contracted through Penguin, plans for another self published book, and I’m putting out three books in the Paper Hearts series over the next three months.
Oh, yeah, and I had a baby ☺
When you're looking to decompress by reading, what book do you reach for?
I go through moods. If I’m working really hard on prose and drafting, I tend to read what I call “candy books”—usually really trashy romances. I don’t want to think too hard, I want to escape. If I’ve been in a reading funk, I try out something new, something that’s just beautiful and strange. I recently read The Nest, and it was perfect for this—a short read that was just so weird.
If you could be a contestant on Survivor, what's the one item you'd take with you?
Haha, I’d get kicked off pretty quickly, so I wouldn’t need anything too crucial. Maybe a boxed set of the Harry Potter books?
A guilty pleasure?
Put Lindt chocolate truffles in the freezer. Trust me.
Bacon or chocolate?
Chocolate covered bacon. With salt on top.
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