Happy Birthday, Rick Riordan, born 5 June 1964
Rick Riordan: On Writing
I tell aspiring writers that you have to find what you MUST write. When you find it, you will know, because the subject matter won’t let you go. It’s not enough to write simply because you think it would be neat to be published. You have to be compelled to write. If you’re not, nothing else that you do matters.
The first thing a young writer needs is a mentor who believes in his or her talent. So don’t be afraid to ask for help! Find a teacher you respect.
Secondly, read a lot! Read everything you can get your hands on. You will learn the craft of writing by immersing yourself in the voices, styles, and structures of writers who have gone before you.
Thirdly, write every day! Keep a journal. Jot down interesting stories you heard. Write descriptions of people you see. It doesn’t really matter what you write, but you must keep up practice. Writing is like a sport — you only get better if you practice. If you don’t keep at it, the writing muscles atrophy.
Fourth: writer’s block. Almost always, this happens because the writer doesn’t plan out where he or she is going to write before starting the book. Make a road map! Outline where each chapter will go. It doesn’t have to be very detailed, and you can always deviate, but if you plan ahead, you can minimize the time you spend staring at a blank screen.
Finally, don’t get discouraged! Writing a book is always hard work. It’s much easier to think of new ideas. You’ll get to the middle of the manuscript and you’ll think, “Oh, this is too hard. I think I’ll start another book instead and that will be easier.” DON’T! That new book won’t be any easier. Soldier through and finish. Don’t worry about mistakes on the first draft. Finish the manuscript and THEN go back and revise. When it’s time to submit your work, remember that rejection is a part of writing, and it hurts. The trick is to keep at it. Wallpaper your room with rejection notes, if you want, but don’t give up.
Rick’s top five tips on PLOT
5. Don’t write the parts the reader would skip anyway. Writers, especially beginning writers, tend to over-explain.
4. Distinguish between mystery and confusion. It is good to keep the reader guessing. It is bad to keep the reader confused.
3. Get going! Until we know the dilemma, we won’t care about the set-up. Get to the point!
2. Identify the moral dilemma driving the novel. The successful novel will haunt a reader because it deals with some ethical or moral dilemma that makes the reader wonder what he or she would do in the protagonist’s place.
1. The protagonist must exert influence to solve the problem, and the antagonist must exert influence to stop the solution.
Riordan is an American author best known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.
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