Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is your writing real?

I was at the Y the other night and asked someone who works there how her training was coming along. She shook her head and explained that it wasn’t. She hadn’t had time to work out because she’s busy with her two children, especially the youngest one who has gotten into all kinds of trouble. “If only kids came with manuals,” she said, explaining that the youngest is opposite the oldest who is always on the honor roll and never causes her any problems. I smiled. I have two children, and I know how challenging parenthood can be.

Our conversation made me think about my characters. Some of them give me tons of trouble. They have attitude and do stupid things. They make me angry. Others are easier to love. They do what’s expected without whining. They make me laugh and sometimes cry.

If you write MG and YA, how real is your writing? Is it so real that your characters influence how you feel? Why is it that when we kill off a character we feel horrible about it? It’s because we care. Because we’ve created characters that have made us care.

Like real kids, we love them despite their flaws. They aren’t perfect. They shouldn’t be perfect. We’re not perfect. The challenge is to make our readers care as much as we do. If we can do this, then I think we’ve achieved a level of writing worthy of a smile or two. If we’re lucky, maybe more.

Do me a favor and post next to where you write a little note that says: Make me care. I hope that it guides you in your writing. If you can't make me care, I'm going to skip class the first chance I get. Don't let that happen. Make me care so much that I'm early to class and get the best front-row seat because I can't wait to hear what the teacher has to say.

The bell's ringin'. Gotta go!


  1. Great advice Buffy. I used to fall in the trap of making my characters too nice. And even if someone is nice, no one is going to care to read about a perfect character. Thanks.

  2. Yes! This is great! I'm totally making a note right now. We don't always realize others may not see a reason to empathize with our characters.

  3. Great advice for writing and for making connections with people in general...You have to give people a reason to care about your characters or be a likeable character yourself.