Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Art and Craft of Stand-out Books


Do you want to write a book that stands out from the crowd? Susanne Gervay, Kathleen Duey and Susan Fletcher explain how.

Susan Fletcher said we should write the best book we know how about something we care passionately about. Good examples are Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow and Kathleen Duey suggested Love and Werewolves in East LA an urban fantasy written in free verse, influenced by Homer and monster movies.

As a reader Kathleen loves to go somewhere magical and characters have to go to the dark soul and gets spiritual alchemy. She likes something that makes her feel a better person. The initial concept needs to stand out to the publisher, publicity department and the book seller. The quality of the book makes the book stand out. You should make people laugh and cry in the same book. A lot is the question of craft and some of it is pure craftiness. As a writer you shouldn’t be invisible, you have to stand out as a personality.

Susanne Gervay said we are all writers in that we write for ourselves. To be a public writer you have to have courage. When her father died she wrote every aspect of his death and the all she knew about the brain tumour down. Writing was a healing process. It took courage. She writes for herself and is influenced by her life. Her books are her life. She recommends you should have the courage to write the truth about life’s adversaries.

Susanne started writing as a quest to search for her identity because her life as a young adult was so painful. When she writes she cries and laughs. She reckons if you don’t you don’t care enough. She writes because she tells the truth and lives the journey. A book stands out because you have something to say about what you care about. You need to put in your real emotions. You need to use your own voice.

Kathleen Duey in her book Skin Hunger said you write about your own issues. A lot of people’s real life events and feelings are in books, intermingled with the fiction. Don’t hold back the emotion as it makes your books shallow. We are here to report, witness and speak about everything we see and tell it the best way we can.

Jane Yolen doesn’t outline she flies into the mist.

Susan Fletcher recommends you should follow something that attracts you. All publishers are different and so are children. Don’t send off your manuscript too soon. They do not judge what your potential is they judge what is in front of them. Kathleen said the voice is inside you. What gives you shivers will help you write it well and honesty.

Susan switched from third to first person to find the right voice. When you are hooked into something it feels like you don’t have to think. The best place to get to is when you are not making it up the words just flow through you.

Some recommended titles Susanne, Kathleen and Susan felt were excellent examples of books that stand-out are:

By studying these, and the books that stand-out for you, it is possible to evaluate for yourself the art and craft of stand-out books.

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