Question for teen writers

I have been asked to contribute an essay with my advice to teen writers.

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of it.

But I should probably go to the source, and make sure I am approaching this from the right direction. So here’s the question:

If you and I were getting together for tea (coffee, hot chocolate, etc.), and you had one writing-related question to ask me, what would it be?

68 Replies to “Question for teen writers”

  1. How do you sustain your momentum when you’re writing a novel? (Particularly in the middle of one – do you outline, always stop mid-sentence/scene so you know where to come back to, skip ahead to write another scene and then come back, or just force yourself to keep going?)

  2. How do you sustain your momentum when you’re writing a novel? (Particularly in the middle of one – do you outline, always stop mid-sentence/scene so you know where to come back to, skip ahead to write another scene and then come back, or just force yourself to keep going?)

  3. My question would be:
    Did you find those eggs yet??
    hee hee, jk

    How do you keep yourself from getting sidetracked on new ideas?

    Everytime I start to write I skip from idea to idea and never know where to just ground myself.

    Hope you have a good week!
    Billie

  4. My question would be:
    Did you find those eggs yet??
    hee hee, jk

    How do you keep yourself from getting sidetracked on new ideas?

    Everytime I start to write I skip from idea to idea and never know where to just ground myself.

    Hope you have a good week!
    Billie

  5. Ignoring rejection

    (Laurie- hopefully ‘teens-at-heart’ can also ask something LOL)

    I am an unpublished writer who has been at it seven years now and have had my share of rejections, yet I keep going feeling in my heart that I DO have something to contribute and share.
    The question- How does a writer keep going knowing there is usually a very strong possibility of rejection in a literary world that faces continued shrinking of readers and markets?

  6. Ignoring rejection

    (Laurie- hopefully ‘teens-at-heart’ can also ask something LOL)

    I am an unpublished writer who has been at it seven years now and have had my share of rejections, yet I keep going feeling in my heart that I DO have something to contribute and share.
    The question- How does a writer keep going knowing there is usually a very strong possibility of rejection in a literary world that faces continued shrinking of readers and markets?

  7. A question from a teen perspective:
    How do I convince my parents that becoming a writer is a good thing?
    Esp. if parents haven’t been involved with the arts?
    I have been an artist for 20 years, and when my daughter was a senior in high school and planned on studying art, several classmates asked how do you convince your parents that art/writing is worthy of study?

  8. A question from a teen perspective:
    How do I convince my parents that becoming a writer is a good thing?
    Esp. if parents haven’t been involved with the arts?
    I have been an artist for 20 years, and when my daughter was a senior in high school and planned on studying art, several classmates asked how do you convince your parents that art/writing is worthy of study?

  9. If you and I were getting together for tea (coffee, hot chocolate, etc.), and you had one writing-related question to ask me, what would it be?

    Chocolate martinis maybe? *grin*

    This is a variation on “How do you sustain momentum?” (and I’m cheating, being not a teen and all!) but my deepest source of frustration is, well, how to phrase this? How do you see where you’re going? Do you outline? Do you just know? When you get stuck, do you just keep writing, and if so, how much of your first draft gets thrown out?

    I’m a double cheat. That’s definitely more than one.

    Molly

  10. If you and I were getting together for tea (coffee, hot chocolate, etc.), and you had one writing-related question to ask me, what would it be?

    Chocolate martinis maybe? *grin*

    This is a variation on “How do you sustain momentum?” (and I’m cheating, being not a teen and all!) but my deepest source of frustration is, well, how to phrase this? How do you see where you’re going? Do you outline? Do you just know? When you get stuck, do you just keep writing, and if so, how much of your first draft gets thrown out?

    I’m a double cheat. That’s definitely more than one.

    Molly

  11. Do we have to drink tea?
    How did you get started writing? Did it just come to you–did you end up taking detours?

    I write for a music website, and do some stuff here and there but what I REALLY want to do is just what you do-write young adult fiction.

  12. Do we have to drink tea?
    How did you get started writing? Did it just come to you–did you end up taking detours?

    I write for a music website, and do some stuff here and there but what I REALLY want to do is just what you do-write young adult fiction.

  13. I’m in love with historical novels and hope to write them someday, but what really frustrates me is the research aspect, since a lot of authors aren’t very forthcoming about their own research methods. Hopefully you have a fresh perspective on this with your new WIP, and having written Fever 1793 (which I really enjoyed, by the way). How do you know when you’ve done enough research? How many aspects of life in that time period do you try to cover? Where do you start in your research and where do you go from there? And what sorts of books/items/primary documents do you look at?

    (Sorry, that was actually more than one question…I guess one whole question would be to discuss your research methods.)

    Thanks!

  14. I’m in love with historical novels and hope to write them someday, but what really frustrates me is the research aspect, since a lot of authors aren’t very forthcoming about their own research methods. Hopefully you have a fresh perspective on this with your new WIP, and having written Fever 1793 (which I really enjoyed, by the way). How do you know when you’ve done enough research? How many aspects of life in that time period do you try to cover? Where do you start in your research and where do you go from there? And what sorts of books/items/primary documents do you look at?

    (Sorry, that was actually more than one question…I guess one whole question would be to discuss your research methods.)

    Thanks!

  15. How do you revise? How do you know what to cut and what to add and what to leave well enough alone?

    also

    How do you know if something is actually any good or not? In my experience, 8/10 times the stuff I’ll think is just ok everyone else will love and the stuff I really love every else will kind of ignore.

  16. How do you revise? How do you know what to cut and what to add and what to leave well enough alone?

    also

    How do you know if something is actually any good or not? In my experience, 8/10 times the stuff I’ll think is just ok everyone else will love and the stuff I really love every else will kind of ignore.

  17. My question is how the heck do you think up a plot? Where do you start? AND if your writing and you kind of sort of had a plot idea in mind, but then you discovered a whole new idea, do you let yourself go with it?

  18. My question is how the heck do you think up a plot? Where do you start? AND if your writing and you kind of sort of had a plot idea in mind, but then you discovered a whole new idea, do you let yourself go with it?

  19. OK, here’s one.

    Do you have to have everything that’s going to happen worked out in advance, or do you follow the “headlights” approach– that is, like driving in a car at night, when all you can see is the road within the reach of your headlights?

  20. OK, here’s one.

    Do you have to have everything that’s going to happen worked out in advance, or do you follow the “headlights” approach– that is, like driving in a car at night, when all you can see is the road within the reach of your headlights?

  21. What about titles? Because a lot of the time, the title is what makes me choose the book, so there’s a ton of significance to them and a lot of pressure to come up with the right one. But I could be totally crazy. 😀

  22. What about titles? Because a lot of the time, the title is what makes me choose the book, so there’s a ton of significance to them and a lot of pressure to come up with the right one. But I could be totally crazy. 😀

  23. Just one?

    How do you stay focused on just one idea? I find myself stopping right in the middle of a book I am writing just because I have (or think I have) a better idea.

    And a smaller question, because I love names. How do you choose names for your characters?

  24. Just one?

    How do you stay focused on just one idea? I find myself stopping right in the middle of a book I am writing just because I have (or think I have) a better idea.

    And a smaller question, because I love names. How do you choose names for your characters?

  25. Writing question

    Once you’ve written the climax of a novel, how do you tie up all of the loose ends, without getting bogged down in too many “reconciliation” scenes?

  26. Writing question

    Once you’ve written the climax of a novel, how do you tie up all of the loose ends, without getting bogged down in too many “reconciliation” scenes?

  27. Writing Questions

    Only one question!?! That’s not fair. Here, you pick one because I can’t decide just one.
    – What do you do when you already know what’s gonna happen in a few scenes but you can’t figure out what to fill the rest of the book with?
    – Is it bad is if you have a lot of names that sound the same? (Vickie, Nickie, Stacie, etc.) I tried to think up different ones, but those were the only ones that fit them!
    – Who all do you let read your books before they’re actually published? I only trust like three or four people. I won’t even let my boyfriend or mom read the whole thing yet!
    – How do you decide who to dedicate your book to? I mean, I know you don’t have to, but it’s a nice thing to do.
    – How to you provide a lot of detail so that the reader can picture it well in their minds without getting too wordy? I was writing a scene the other night, and when I re-read it, I even got bored.
    Eh…that’s all I can think of at the moment.

  28. Writing Questions

    Only one question!?! That’s not fair. Here, you pick one because I can’t decide just one.
    – What do you do when you already know what’s gonna happen in a few scenes but you can’t figure out what to fill the rest of the book with?
    – Is it bad is if you have a lot of names that sound the same? (Vickie, Nickie, Stacie, etc.) I tried to think up different ones, but those were the only ones that fit them!
    – Who all do you let read your books before they’re actually published? I only trust like three or four people. I won’t even let my boyfriend or mom read the whole thing yet!
    – How do you decide who to dedicate your book to? I mean, I know you don’t have to, but it’s a nice thing to do.
    – How to you provide a lot of detail so that the reader can picture it well in their minds without getting too wordy? I was writing a scene the other night, and when I re-read it, I even got bored.
    Eh…that’s all I can think of at the moment.

  29. being unique

    writing is something I love to do but sometimes when I write say a short story the style of it reminds me of that of one of my favorite writers ex: you J.k. Rowling Sharon Creech etc. How do you break away from that so that your voice is unique? – Jessica from sheepshead Bay H.S.

  30. being unique

    writing is something I love to do but sometimes when I write say a short story the style of it reminds me of that of one of my favorite writers ex: you J.k. Rowling Sharon Creech etc. How do you break away from that so that your voice is unique? – Jessica from sheepshead Bay H.S.

  31. question

    When you’re first thinking about your characters, how do they differ from when you’re actually writing the story? (I mean like hair color, eye color, facial features, all that, if that makes any sense.)

  32. question

    When you’re first thinking about your characters, how do they differ from when you’re actually writing the story? (I mean like hair color, eye color, facial features, all that, if that makes any sense.)

  33. I love tea!

    I think any teenager can attest to the fact that we are the world’s biggest procrastinators. And I personally tend to lose the thread of one story and move onto my next big plot idea in a new one. (Hence many many half-finished stories). How do you stay motivated when your plot loses momentum?

  34. I love tea!

    I think any teenager can attest to the fact that we are the world’s biggest procrastinators. And I personally tend to lose the thread of one story and move onto my next big plot idea in a new one. (Hence many many half-finished stories). How do you stay motivated when your plot loses momentum?

  35. How do you stay focused on writing the whole novel? I commented on a sort of way earlier entry on how I was in NaNoWriMo, but I never finished my novel. I told myself I’d still finish it and it still hasn’t happened, I’ve almost completely lost interest in it, but I still believe it’s a good story…. I always get side tracked or just don’t feel like continuing it. u_u

  36. How do you stay focused on writing the whole novel? I commented on a sort of way earlier entry on how I was in NaNoWriMo, but I never finished my novel. I told myself I’d still finish it and it still hasn’t happened, I’ve almost completely lost interest in it, but I still believe it’s a good story…. I always get side tracked or just don’t feel like continuing it. u_u

  37. That’s a hard one…

    Hi, I am HUGE fan of your writing. I’m not a teenager, but i am at heart.

    I have been writing since i was 13, and i am 36 now. Not really published and i have been on and off writing.

    I would want to ask so many questions. It’s hard to narrow it down and it seems like a lot of people have already asked things i would normally ask other writers.
    Do you think YA novels should have sex scenes? I am in the middle of a story/possible novel and was heading towards one but chickened out.

    I just finished reading Catalyst, and it was overflowing with emotion for me. the ending surprised me so much and i have two little boys so it really got the tears flowing. I have read a lot of YA novels since i’ve narrowed the genre down for my own writing, and you are without a doubt, the best of them all. Speak, no pun intend, Spoke volumes. i actually bought it and catalyst and am going to buy Prom, when i find it as it was sold out at barnes and noble today.

    Take care and i am currently rereading speak.

    Eileen F.

  38. That’s a hard one…

    Hi, I am HUGE fan of your writing. I’m not a teenager, but i am at heart.

    I have been writing since i was 13, and i am 36 now. Not really published and i have been on and off writing.

    I would want to ask so many questions. It’s hard to narrow it down and it seems like a lot of people have already asked things i would normally ask other writers.
    Do you think YA novels should have sex scenes? I am in the middle of a story/possible novel and was heading towards one but chickened out.

    I just finished reading Catalyst, and it was overflowing with emotion for me. the ending surprised me so much and i have two little boys so it really got the tears flowing. I have read a lot of YA novels since i’ve narrowed the genre down for my own writing, and you are without a doubt, the best of them all. Speak, no pun intend, Spoke volumes. i actually bought it and catalyst and am going to buy Prom, when i find it as it was sold out at barnes and noble today.

    Take care and i am currently rereading speak.

    Eileen F.

  39. When do you write, where do you write, and how much time do you typically spend a day writing?

    I guess that’s not necessarily *useful* advice, but the habits of sucessful writers fascinates me.

    I’ll be 21 soon, so I suppose I’m not a teen anymore, but I’ll always be one at heart 🙂

  40. When do you write, where do you write, and how much time do you typically spend a day writing?

    I guess that’s not necessarily *useful* advice, but the habits of sucessful writers fascinates me.

    I’ll be 21 soon, so I suppose I’m not a teen anymore, but I’ll always be one at heart 🙂

    1. coming from a non-teen, non-writer perspective, i’d say that was an extremely useful question. the question of how do your work your dreams into your daily life to make them reality is something i’m struggling with all the time. what were the habits that helped you make writing a part of your life and what habits just got in your way or didn’t work out?

  41. Scene by Scene?

    Hi,
    I’m wondering, do you start at the first page and write each scene in order until the end? I often find I’m inspired to write a certain scene, so I jump ahead to it, which can mean that my events in between don’t end up flowing, so I feel like I’m constantly rewriting scenes and always tell myself, if i would just write from start to finish – in order – maybe this wouldn’t happen. What do you think?
    Thank you!

  42. Scene by Scene?

    Hi,
    I’m wondering, do you start at the first page and write each scene in order until the end? I often find I’m inspired to write a certain scene, so I jump ahead to it, which can mean that my events in between don’t end up flowing, so I feel like I’m constantly rewriting scenes and always tell myself, if i would just write from start to finish – in order – maybe this wouldn’t happen. What do you think?
    Thank you!

  43. coming from a non-teen, non-writer perspective, i’d say that was an extremely useful question. the question of how do your work your dreams into your daily life to make them reality is something i’m struggling with all the time. what were the habits that helped you make writing a part of your life and what habits just got in your way or didn’t work out?

  44. when writing motivation wavers

    Dear Ms. Anderson, I like it that teens are able to ask you questions about how you would handle things with writing. My question is, what do you do when your writing motivation wavers? I’ve been writing since I was 13 and one day hope to be published. I hate it when my motivation to write wavers.

    Any information would be appreciated!
    Sincerely,

    Emily 🙂

  45. when writing motivation wavers

    Dear Ms. Anderson, I like it that teens are able to ask you questions about how you would handle things with writing. My question is, what do you do when your writing motivation wavers? I’ve been writing since I was 13 and one day hope to be published. I hate it when my motivation to write wavers.

    Any information would be appreciated!
    Sincerely,

    Emily 🙂

  46. Question

    I would ask if you think that writing is a talent that comes naturally to some, and not for others. For example: could somebody who isn’t necessarily a natural writer become as honest and natural in their writing as one who was born with the talent?

    P.S. I was in your Mount Baker Junior High crowd…and I LOVED your talk. Definitely made me think about things.

  47. Question

    I would ask if you think that writing is a talent that comes naturally to some, and not for others. For example: could somebody who isn’t necessarily a natural writer become as honest and natural in their writing as one who was born with the talent?

    P.S. I was in your Mount Baker Junior High crowd…and I LOVED your talk. Definitely made me think about things.

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