Another Shusterman Tribute

In case you haven’t guessed, Inklings (i.e. I) is (am) a fan of Neal Shusterman. Not all Shusterman novels are on Inklings, yet, but they will be eventually.

Most notably, I’ve been blogging about the Skinjacker Trilogy (see Everlost and Everwild). In a flash of procrastination, er, inspiration, I found the Neal Shusterman blog, which will remain on my blogroll for those interested.

Because I also blog about the writing process and haven’t done so for a while, I thought I’d attach one of his blogs about his process. (Note: Everfound out next summer). From the writing perspective, it’s very identifiable, and entertaining reading otherwise.

That said, I want to talk briefly about the idea of travel for writing inspiration. I’m for it. Like your “element” (See Pavlov, Eat Your Heart Out), travel can do wonders for that creative spark. Works for me. New places bring new ideas, but they aren’t always forthcoming, even with travel. Nor are they controllable. It’s one of the major internal conflicts writers face.

In my humble opinion, Shusterman’s stories work because he obeys the rule Character First. This usually develops into quite the tirade for me, so I’ll try to be brief. To sum up, listening to the characters is crucial. Even more crucial than where you want the plot to go. Shusterman’s post preceding the link above discusses that briefly. If you ignore character inclination, you sacrifice their “realness” and your readers’ attachments for the sake of a plot. The characters then fail, and thus, so does the plot. If you don’t care about the characters or are unable to believe them ( “align with” in counseling lingo), the plot will have little relevance for you, the reader. As I’ve mentioned before, characters in Shusterman’s novels, as is especially true in the young adult genre are so creative, yet so real that they pull you in to the story.

So, mission of the week (or period of time between posting): How do you develop strong characters? Let characters drive the story. How do we reach that enigmatic plane where we  release the characters and let them run?


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