Author Inara Scott returns to the RU campus! Inara’s second YA book, The Marked, hits the shelves in April 2012, and her latest book, Radiant Desires, debuts next month.
No pop quizzes today, but Inara’s asking a question that’s definitely thought provoking…
“What’s my strength as a writer?” This question haunted me as I got on the plane to head home from the 2011 RWA National Conference. At the conference I’d attended a panel of writers talking about writing and publishing their second books. One important lesson these panelists discussed was the need to identify their strength or signature style and exploit that in their second book. Diverting from this path (for example, trying to load up on the action when your strength is witty dialog), the panelists found, led to a lot of revising and heartache.
This naturally got me thinking – what was my strength? Did I even have one? If so, how would I find it?
Turns out, this wasn’t such an easy question! But I think finding the answer was a powerful tool – maybe even an essential one – to my growth as a writer.
Now, finding your strength doesn’t mean you can’t ever try something new and different. Change is essential to all things, including authors. But you should be aware of how much you may challenge yourself – and your readers – by doing so. More importantly, knowing your strength will give you a leg up in writing the best possible manuscript. If you’re damn good at witty dialog, why not seek out the opportunity to throw your characters into unusual situations and let them talk their way out? If you write rich, atmospheric books, how about finding ways to make the setting a key element of the story? If you’re gifted at creating memorable characters, why stop at just a hero and heroine? Try an ensemble cast, or build in some subplots.
This all sounds good, you say, but how do I figure it all out? Exploring yourself as a writer takes time, which we obviously don’t have in a short blog post. But I’m going to throw out a starting place. A jumping off point for your journey.
First, I’m going to give you some archetypes and authors, and I want you to think of several more. Snappy, witty dialog: Jennifer Crusie, Susan Sey. Rich, detailed settings and authentic characters that transport you to another time and place: Mary Balogh, Christina Brooke. Quirky, flawed characters that crawl into your heart and make you cheer when they get their happily ever after: Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Larger-than-life alpha males that beg to be tamed by a strong woman: Gena Showalter, Jessa Slade, Alyssa Day.
Now, I want you to open up your WIP and get a pad. Skim through a few scenes, or the whole book, and take some notes. What do you like best about what you’ve written? What stands out for you? Is it dialog? Setting? Are there characters you adore? The mood you create in a particular scene?
This is no time for modesty or self doubt. What do you love? What speaks to your soul? Where does your writing sing?
Now you get to play the matching game! What archetype can you claim for your own? Once you have this information you can use it everywhere you go: when structuring new stories, when revising, when looking for comparables in the market…even when talking to your editor.
Hope you had fun playing my little game. Now, leave me a comment and tell me about your strength. I’ve got bookmarks, temporary tattoos, and stickers to celebrate the release of my latest book, Radiant Desire. Everyone who comments wins!
We hope you’ll join us on Friday, October 7th, when author Janet Mullany steps up to the podium.
Bio: Inara Scott writes paranormal young adult fiction for Disney-Hyperion and steamy adult romance for Entangled Publishing. She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.inarascott.com, Twitter (@inarascott), Facebook, Google+, or wherever chatting may occur.
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