Thursday, April 9, 2015

Toni Morrison on Writing What You Want to Read

by Jill Williamson

One of the reasons I first started writing fiction was because I saw on the news that there were some Christians in Southern California who were burning Harry Potter books. This annoyed me on many levels. As I was stewing, I thought to myself, "Hey! Maybe I should write a book. I would try to make it creative and fun like Harry Potter, but I'd write it from a Christian worldview."

That's what I set out to do with The New Recruit. It was my first book. Project Gemini was my second book. I spent the first three-and-a-half years of my new writing career on those two books. I was so close to them that I finally had to set them aside and write some other books. Years later I was able to come back and rewrite them and see them published. Which was a very nice feeling.




What book do you want to read that hasn't been written yet? Have you written it already? Are you working on it right now? Or is it a book you're still dreaming of? I find that before I even finish a book, I'm already daydreaming about the next book I want to read (and therefore write).

Share one of your "I can't wait to write it" ideas in the comments below. Mine is Onyx Eyes. I started writing it on my blog over a year ago, and ever since I've been DYING to get back to it. *sigh* Someday.

50 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I may get a little unintelligible as I share. :P

    Right now, I have the book of my dreams, Illusion. I've just loved every part of it (except for the editing...) and I can't wait to begin querying.

    But a couple of weeks ago, a title jumped into my brain: Before I Go. And then I had this image of a girl walking on the railroad tracks, away from her life. I couldn't believe it. I'd had a Contemporary idea!! (most of my ideas are fantasy or sci-fi) So right now, Before I Go sits in my ideas notebook, but I'm hoping to bring it to life someday!

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to share, Mrs. Williamson. :)

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    1. I like your idea, Linea! And Illusion is a great title. Good luck with your book(s)!

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    2. Thanks so much! Good luck with yours, Jonathan!

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  2. One of my favorite story ideas is a Jack Frost and Peter Pan retelling/mashup...I'm still plotting it out, and i need to do some research before I start writing, but I'm really excited about it. Another story I can't wait to start (and will probably start this summer) is set in post-apocalyptic America, when a young man makes a promise to a dying mailman to finish his last deliveries.

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    1. They both sound really cool Emma! Good luck with them :).

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    2. I love the post-apocalyptic mail idea, Emma. It sounds really unique!

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    3. Jack Frost meets Peter Pan????? Awesome. Fairytale retelling/mashups are so cool and a lot of fun.

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  3. The book I'm writing right now is something I've stuck with for a long, long while. It's set in a world of Norse mythology, where a royal assassin discovers an ancient secret about his past while hunting his rival, and turns on his own master to stop him from travelling back in time and killing his parents...before he was born.

    Another idea I stopped ten chapters in, which is a book of my dreams, is called the Bane of the Dragons. It's also set in Norse mythology, and it's about a young ninja searching fro his lost father, but after his dojo is destroyed he teams up with his rival to stop a deadly monster called Thyphon from destroying the dragons and thus all life.

    Oh, and I had a question, and I didn't know where to ask it, so I'll just ask it here. Do you guys have any tips on how to integrate multiple POVs into your story from early on, and still focus the story on one MC? Because I've been struggling with it, and I was hoping you folks could help. Thanks!

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    1. I love Norse mythology--it's relatively open (until Rick Riordan's Magnus Chase series comes out in October...:/) and I've heard a lot about your Flameweaver story. It sounds cool. Also, "Flameweaver" is just an awesome name for a magic form. :)

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    2. Both of your stories sound very cool!

      In answer to your question: The first thing you should think about is whether or not the extra POVs are really necessary. In general, it's my belief that you shouldn't use more POVs than are really necessary to develop the story. Second, make sure that your MC is the most dynamic character in the story, the one who's undergoing the most change and is driving the plot. You could also try limiting your other-POV chapters to make sure your MC is getting the most "screen time", so to speak.
      Hopefully these tips helped. Good luck with your writing!

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    3. Here's a blog post that might help you as well, Jonathan:

      http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2014/02/are-multiple-points-of-view-right-for.html

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    4. Love Norse Mythology!

      To answer your question, I agree with Sarah. I love multiple POVs, I have five in my current WIP, and it was awesome as soon as I figured things out. However, the more POVs you have the longer the book. The character you want the focus to be on should have the first chapter, and I would suggest you giving them two or three chapters (unless your chapters are really long) with your MC just so readers really like him before getting tossed into someone else's head. I find sticking to one POV per chapter is best in first person, but you can change multiple times in 3rd, though you have to be careful about doing that too much. Readers will pick their favorite POV over others, so if your other POVs are less likable or more likable don't overshadow the lesser. Beta readers are great for determining how likable your POVs are. I personally introduced my least likable POV second, and it's just something to consider if your circumstances allow for you to start the POVs how you like.

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    5. Thanks everyone! All this really helped :). And thanks for the compliments too, I'm flattered. :D

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  4. I think this quote probably goes both ways. If there's a book you want to write, and you find out its already been written, don't write it. Let more experienced writers than you take care of that story.

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    1. It's happened to me, and it's no fun to see that some grown-up author stole your story idea, twenty years ago.

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    2. But how will you ever get that experience unless you write it? I'm not really a fan of "letting the more experienced writers take care of it" because how else will you get that experience? Also, you don't always have to publish it... Write it just for fun! :)

      I'm so sorry an idea you had has already been written. Maybe the author didn't know that you had the idea as well. Still, that is no fun. :(

      Samantha, thesnowwhiteblog.blogspot.com

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    3. I have to disagree as well. In the end, writing is about you and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. If someone's written something similar, go ahead and write it anyway! You have your own unique life experience to permeate that story--it will likely end up unique because it is coming from you and not that other writer :)

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    4. A brilliant quote by C. S. Lewis: "No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth, without caring twopence how often it has been told before, you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

      C. S. Lewis is brilliant. :)

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  5. I'm working on my can't wait to write it book right now, actually. :D It's about a world in which the people know that Authors exist and that they were created as part of a story. I'm enjoying it so far. :D

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    1. *Gasp* Sarah, I love that idea!!! Best of "luck" to you! :D

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    2. So the sub-creations would interact with the author? Like Frodo and Tolkien would talk to each other for example? That would be cool!

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  6. I am dying to write a fairytale retelling from a Christian perspective. I want to keep all of the core elements set by the Grimm brothers, but I also want to incorporate the historical parts while still keeping it in a "fairytale mindset". It's quite hard, to be honest, but that is really what I want to read. :)

    Samantha, thesnowwhiteblog.blogspot.com

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    1. I would love to read a book like that.

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  7. I am dying to move into the second draft of the story I want to read in a world made of fractured pieces of time.

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  8. This is really good advice, and something I have subconsciously done but not exactly thought of. Thank you for the great post!

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  9. Love this advice. I've wanted to write my mess of quirky characters Wonder for years, but it intimidates me every time I look at my first notes. There's no better way to become passionate about a project than making it what you want to see more than anything!

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  10. Ooh, I'm loving hearing all about the books you guys are dying to write. Keep them coming!

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  11. I love the quote!

    I'm working on a somewhat eerie idea that I've taken from mashing up Lord of the Flies, The Stepford Wives, and a Twilight Zone episode, lol. Still confusing, but it sounds cool! I even have the cast picked out to help me :D

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    1. I had a quick question:
      Is it bad to want to write many different genres? Like if you debuted with this genre, but also published all these other genres after it...I've heard you'd lose fans or not even get published with this method.

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    2. It's not bad. In the end, writing is for you. And if you can't get it published with the same publisher, try a different one. And perhaps, if you can find no one to take it, you can self-publish. You have to be careful with this, though, and make sure it's edited to the standards of a normal publishing house, and make sure you publicize it.

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  12. I guess I was somewhat inspired by Francine Rivers to write this short story. From a Christian martyr's point of view right around the time after Jesus' death. I don't think I'm ready to write it quite yet. I mean, it's a about a martyr. Kinda heavy for me at this point, and would require a lot of research on that period. But someday. :)

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  13. I love this quote!
    I've been working on my book for a little over a year now, its a combination between Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings with some underlining Christian themes, kind of like what C.S Lewis does in the Chronicles of Narnia. I'm really excited to share what God has given me and I can't wait to finish!

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  14. I have a few stories I want to read and haven't found yet but don't feel ready to write. Someday, though, perhaps. :) And actually, the first novel I wrote was because I wanted to read a good book about homeschoolers and I hadn't found one. The few books I'd read with homeschoolers were so weird and the homeschoolers were all creepy nature-hippie people and just...yeah.

    So, chances are I'll end up writing more books with realistic homeschoolers. :)

    Usually, though, I don't know what stories I want to read until I find them on the library shelf and read them. ;)

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  15. Oh, I'm working on my "can't wait to read it!!!" right now! I've poured so much of myself into the characters and the story!!! I'm working on the rough draft, and I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo, and I've already gotten a lot of work done on it!

    I too, love this quote. :)

    By the way, here's a link to my synopsis, if you're interested: http://campnanowrimo.org/campers/natasha-roxby/novels/mindscape-170280

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  16. My "can't wait to write it" book is about a writer who loses a dare and has to write the sort of book she hates the most - a mushy, overseas romance with a damsel in distress heroine and inhumanly gorgeous male hero. In order to write it as accurately as possible, as well as dealing with the put downs of the writer she lost the bet too, she hires a friend of a friend, a second generation in America from Korea, to help her.

    I've been studying Korean as a second language for four years and learned a lot about the culture. I also found out if you have big curly blond hair, you look out of place going to an all Korean church for Korean lessons :)

    It's fun to see everyone else's books they can't wait to write!

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    1. Ash here.
      You need to get that published!! I have a few Korean friends and writing a mushy romance would be my nightmare too!! Seriously, awesome idea.

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  17. Oh, I have so many... Some of them may have actually been written, but either I haven't heard of them or they're not up to my content standards.

    One is a story written in first person from a blind girl's perspective, first person... being written without any visual description. I can't wait to get started on it, but I need a plot. :P

    Another is a fairytale mashup... I am dying to read one of these!!! I may just have to write my own eventually. :P

    I also want to read/write a book about writing, book blogging, or both. :D And also a book involving the Russian language, because... <3

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  18. Ash here.
    I have a book I'm currently writing that I have always wanted to read. I'm super picky on what to read. I like mystery, fantasy, mythology, and stories about animals (mostly dogs). Half the time I read books of these genres I never expect to like. Well, on the first three. Ever see any super awesome novels about dogs? I've read a few, but a while back I was looking for a teen role model who wrote a book about animals. I had no luck. So I had this great idea to write the story I'm currently working on.
    It's about this girl who doesn't have a lot of courage and doesn't have many friends (She even loses one of two at the very beginning when they move). She has to deal with her bully all alone, but she gets a dog for her birthday. The story is about her finding her courage and the love she has for her dog.
    Thanks so much for the post! It is relatable to many writers!

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  19. Such a timely post for me! I am literally right now talking to a friend about books I want to write someday!
    There's two in particular that I can't wait to get back to: a sci-fi dystopian with werewolves, genetic experiments, and a dash of the Hunger Games; and a medieval-style fantasy: it's a three-way romance about three siblings, their unattainable loves, and what they're willing to sacrifice for their family.


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  20. Growling Gimli! You've just completely put my thoughts into words. Yes, I have That Story that I am dreaming to write... I don't think I am quite ready yet, so I am waiting and learning and writing until I believe I am. It is called The Lost Tribe for no reason whatsoever, because it has got absolutely nothing to do with a lost tribe. Please excuse the deception.

    The Lost Tribe takes place in a medieval-ish era in a mythical land of mine called Asgarn. This is the story of a young lad Loikas who is faced with the impossible task of leading a peasant revolution against the upper class. Loikas is talented, but he is afraid, always afraid that he is doing the wrong thing, or that he could do a better one. On the outside, he appears confident and inspires confidence in others. Many admire him; others spurn him, but he never seems daunted. It is only his companion and confidante, Theodore, who truly comprehends the doubt, stress, and terror of this boy who is forced so young to become a man.

    I love acting out the scenes in The Lost Tribe, even though I usually end up acting boys. The characters in it are among my most intimate friends. There's so much love in this story, such strong ties of friendship and family, such courage, such hope both broken and mended, and at the end of it all--a rising sun to drive away the darkness.

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    1. Sounds amazing! I love acting out scenes, too! It really helps you to get into the characters' heads and hearts, really see what's going on.
      And YES! Charries are my best friends too!


      Alexa
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  21. This is a great post, Jill! I guess I don't have a specific book in mind that I want to read, but I have something that's more of a "mission statement". I want to write completely clean YA books that focus on friendship instead of romance, because those are the books I want to read. I'm getting tired of having to sift through reviews to find out if a book is appropriate. Even then, I sometimes stumble upon questionable content. And right now I'm putting more of a priority on friendship than romance in my life, so I want to see YA characters that do that.

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    1. Ash here.
      I love your mission statement! My dream book is focused on friendship instead of romance and is completely clean. Think I can borrow that? ;)

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    2. Oh, definitely! Your story sounds great! We need more stories like that, so keep on writing, Ash!

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    3. Oh, definitely! Your story sounds great! We need more stories like that, so keep on writing, Ash!

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    4. Rock on, Ana and Ash! We do indeed have great need for such stories. More power to you guys! *hobbity hugs*

      God bless, Anne Marie :)

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  22. Mine is something that has been in my mind for decades now and I think I may be finally ready for it though it has morphed some from my original thought. It will be set primarily in ancient Britain. I hope it will spread to the medieval period too. But I need to finish another series that I have barely begun first because I already know this other project will be far longer and involve much more work and time in research and all that good stuff. Can't wait to dive in! I can barely hold myself off from starting even now.

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