Inkpop Blog

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5 authors share best writing advice

Posted by inkpop on May 2, 2010

inktip #27: From pitch slams to watching TV, Aprilynne Pike, Megan Whalen Turner, and other leading teen-lit authors talk about their secrets of success

“STUDY YOUR FAVES.” — CARRIE VAUGHN, author of Voices of Dragons

Don’t just read and write, but learn to analyze. If there’s a book or movie or TV show you love, why do you love it? If you hate it, why? Try to figure out exactly what makes the stories you read and watch tick. Then, apply it to your own work. If there’s something you hate in books you read—don’t do that! If there’s something you love, try to figure out how to do it yourself.”

“HIT UP PITCH-SLAM SESSIONS.” — KIM DERTING, author of The Body Finder

“Since I found my agent during a Pitch-Slam session at the Book Expo America (BEA), I’m a huge fan of attending writers’ conferences! One of the scariest moments in my life turned out to be one of the most rewarding. Here’s how the terrifying yet wonderful Pitch-Slam process works at BEA Los Angeles:

The agents and editors are set up in conference rooms throughout the convention center. You get a map with everyone’s names and locations to plot out which agents and editors you want to pitch to. Then, you stand in line with other nervous writers who are also hoping to find someone who will request their manuscript. When it’s your turn, you have three minutes—yes, there is actually someone with a stop-watch—to pitch your “completed” manuscript.

The best—and scariest—part is that you get to find instantly whether you’ve gotten the go-ahead to send your sample pages. Fastest. Response. Time. Ever! Basically, it’s like speed-dating but without the cocktails. I pitched to seven editors and agents and was fortunate enough to have six of them request a partial of The Body Finder! That was how this crazy journey started for me, and I’m so happy I decided to attend.”           


Write thank-you notes. Even though I hate writing them, and am not nearly as virtuous about it as I wish I were, long thank-you notes—that tell your aunt or your uncle or your grandparents about what you’ve been doing lately and how life is going and thanks for the puce satin slippers—are the best writing practice I know.”


“Before I Fall is the first novel for which I actually drafted and used an outline, and now I find them completely indispensable.

I think the outline may have been the most difficult part for me. I am a very character-driven writer, and not used to thinking rigorously about structure and plot, so in the past I’d always just kind of written my way into the book in some meandering fashion. I often got stuck halfway through or—even worse—completed an 800-page book with no plot. Yup. That happened. Twice.

With Before I Fall, I spent a solid two months building a really strong, comprehensive outline. The writing came easily after that; I used the outline as a rope to pull me along. I wrote the whole thing in about six months.”


“Listen to the hard advice—in life as well as writing. The advice or critique that is the hardest to hear is probably the one you need to hear—and then follow—the most.”

inkpop Forums Topic: What are your best writing tips? Share with the inkpop community on the “inktips” by inkpoppers! Forums thread. Read. Write. Connect.

This inkpop blog post was written by Amy Schroeder (aka inkpopAmy)

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One Response to “5 authors share best writing advice”

  1. Great tips! Will be attending books expo this year.
    Now starting to plan at the sessions to attend.

    Definitely keep suggestions in mind.

    Antoinette Mendoza

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