write4kids Editor’s note: Audrey is a 13-year-old student from California who is currently working on her own novel between school, sports and choir. She’s also a Contributing Editor to Write4Kids, focusing on middle grade and YA literature.
AUDREY — I’ve interviewed Alma Alexander. Ms. Alexander has published the YA fantasy series Worldweavers from HarperTeen. She wrote a novel as a 14 year old, and she has been editing it and revising it on a website: http://heritageofclan.wordpress.com/
Your writing style is super evocative. Do you have any tips on making the story come to life? You seem to strike a good balance between description and action—how do you do it?
ALMA: I have this odd way of “seeing” things as I write, as if I was seeing a movie projected on the inside of my brain. There’s always a context to this – a setting – and I am detail-oriented enough to immerse myself in this completely. But it’s as though as the visual component of it is the last to fall into place in this sensurround projection that I’m plunged into. First I’ll smell the salt on the breeze, or step onto a stray seashell and crunch it underfoot, or hear the distant sound of breaking surf – and only then will I truly open my eyes and confirm that I am standing beside an ocean. You have more senses than just your sight – trust them to guide you, trust them to open sensations you may not have realized were there before you closed your eyes to the relentless pressure of what you can SEE.
On the other tentacle, just because something is present is no reason to shoehorn it into the story.
It’s important to know WHICH details are important. Not everything is. And this really comes with practice. It’s also important to know when to STOP describing, and focus on what a character in this detailed setting is about to DO – because now you’re writing the STORY. The story is a forward motion, with the character in the midst of action. Yes, defining the setting is part of the battle – but now you have to let the character go, and see what that character DOES with that setting.