I host a thread over on Wattpad.com called: ‘Teen Writers- Need Writing Help? The Teacher Is In’, where users, mostly teenagers, are invited to ask me any writing related question. I never pretend to know everything, and Lord knows I don’t, but I do the best I can to shell out some advice. Some of the users are brand-spankin’ new to writing, while others have been doing it forever. I thought it’d be a great idea to share some of the questions I’ve received, and some of the “advice” I’ve given.
Here’s one on being your own worst critic:
My two cents?
I have yet to meet a writer who isn’t their own worst critic. I’ve witnessed firsthand some of my writer friends, people who I really admire, breakdown. I have to admit, that while I’m encouraging and reassuring them, secretly I’m letting out an internal sigh of relief that someone who I think is amazing is just as riddled with doubt as I am.
Every time someone reaches out to me about my work, I’m nothing but amazed. It still shocks me. Every. Time.
Because the thing is, each time I read my work I notice something, something that needs to be fixed, or that I missed, or needs to be deleted all together. I see my every flaw, flaws that readers happily overlook. I don’t know why this is; but I’ve yet to meet the confident writer.
Maybe that’s a good thing though. Maybe that’s why we keep creating, because we’re constantly striving to be better. I’m not sure. But know this, you are not alone. In fact, I think that inner critic is exactly what helps makes you a writer.
As for the second part of your post, the best way to create characters that will draw readers into your story is to make them as realistic as possible. In order for your readers to get attached to your characters, you’ve got to get attached to them first. You do that by getting to know them.
How? Try fake interviewing them. Come up with a series of questions and write a response to them in your characters’ voices. You can ask everything and anything, from ‘what’s your favorite color?’ to ‘what’s your relationship with your mother like?’ Even if the question has nothing to do with the plot of your book, these insights into the characters you’re creating will give you a greater understanding of who they are. It will make them three dimensional, and very real to you.
After this you should be able to anticipate your characters’ reactions, their responses, and their actions to any given circumstance. You’ll know their strengths and their weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to let them take you on their own journey while your writing, even if it contradicts what you had planned. Sometimes the more ‘real’ these characters are to you, the more they show you the way.
Good Luck, and if anything, remember this: