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Writing advice from leading authors

Delia Sherman, Fantasy and YA author of The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen and The Freedom Maze on what gets and keeps her writing.

Q: What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
A: Talking through whatever I'm stuck on with a writing buddy. Frequently, just describing the problem I'm having with plot, character motivation, whatever, will start to give me ideas. And if it doesn't, the questions/comments/suggestions the writing buddy gives me will almost always shake something loose. You just have to remember that other people's advice and alternate ideas are best viewed as prompts, not directives.

Q: What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
A: Imagining (or talking through or writing) a difficult scene from the point of view of another character. It's particularly useful to run scenes from the antagonist's pov. Keeps you from writing simple Evil Nasties.

Q: What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
A: Well, I was a beginning writer rather than a young one (when I was young, I was told to write about my real life, which kept me from writing fiction for many years). I guess the best advice I got was from my writing partner Greer Gilman, who encouraged me to push past my first ideas (which tended towards the conventional and expected) to what I really wanted to say.

deliasherman


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