Sunday, January 24, 2010

Writing Tips From Kathleen Duey SCBWI Miami

1. Find the right voice for the book. Kathleen's voice varies widely.

2. When plotting don't ask what happens next. Aask what would my protagonist do next.

3. The first few pages of a novel are the hardest. Kathleen rewrites many of her first pages about 20 times.

4. You can turn any reader into a critiquer with these three letters: B, C, D. Ask your readers to mark any places in the manuscript where they become bored, confused, or don't believe it with the corresponding letter.

5. Sometimes bringing the unexpected character to the plot makes a manuscript stronger. (e.g. the beautiful cheerleader who tries to commit suicide.)

6. When you have a good writing day, figure out why so that you can duplicate it.

7. Gag your inner parent!

8. When plotting make sure the stakes are high enough.

9. To make a novel really interesting have your character choose between two good choices or two bad choices.

10. There is no substitute for butt in chair!


  1. I love the bored, confused, don't believe it idea. But it takes courage to turn peeps loose on your manuscript with those three letters! Woo! O.O

  2. #2 That tip right there can really make a difference between forcing a story and letting a story happen.

  3. I like the bored, confused, don't believe it idea for when a novelist is in a critique group that also includes PB writers.

    Hi Danette, I missed seeing you in Miami!

  4. #2= Yes, genius remark and so simple. Ask what the character would do next. Thanks for all your updates, Shannon. Really good remarks about your critique and your sessions.