What I’ve Learned from Teachers I’ve Never Met

The greatest teachers I’ve had through my writing journey are people I’ve never met. Their names are: Alice Hoffman, Ted Dekker, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Frank Perretti, Jennifer McMahon, Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Meyer,and many more…. These are all authors I’ve read over the years who have influenced my writing. I guess I should take one out – I have met Jodi Picoult, but I doubt she would remember my face from the hundreds who were at her book signing that night.

Reading is pretty much my favorite thing to do. I read all the time. For many years it was just for fun, but ever since I started writing, I have had to learn to read through the eyes of a writer.

A mistake I made early on in my writing was trying to emulate my favorite authors. It’s no secret that if I could be any writer it would be Alice Hoffman. I think her writing is beyond beautiful. But every time I’ve tried to write like her it’s been disastrous. I’ve learned that my style of writing is not like hers and I’ve had to give up the idea of sounding like her. I have my own writing voice and I’ve learned to embrace that.

In the past year or two I’ve been trying to analyze why it is that I love certain books over others. Take for instance my latest obsession – the Mortal Instruments Series and Infernal Devices Series. I can’t get enough of these books. I seriously am addicted and would read anything written about these characters. So, that brings me to the question – what did Clare do in these books that can help me in my own writing? Her books remind me of the way I felt when reading Twilight (yes, I am a Twi-hard and I’m proud of it). What I’ve realized is that I’m a sucker for a good romance. I’ve realized that if an author writes a love story in a way that I can experience falling in love passionately with the characters, than I’m sucked in. Also, if the author can write a hero that I fall in love with than I’m hooked (case in point – Jace from MI – my book boyfriend *swoon).

Also, I have to be invested in the characters and in the romance or I won’t care enough to keep reading. I think about Hunger Games and Divergent. Both books I completely loved, however, both of them were a little disturbing. The thing that kept me reading both of them were – Peeta and Four. I loved these guys and wanted to read more about them. I could even overlook the senseless killing and scenes that had me biting my nails to the quick. All because I cared about the characters.

I took this revelation into writing my latest novel, Dazzle, set for release in October 2012. I hope that I’ve done my “teachers” proud. I worked hard to create characters that readers can believe in. I also wrote swoon worthy heroes and slowly unfolded the romance. I hope my readers will be able to fall in love right along with Delaney. I know I did (Jace may have some competition).

So, thank you to all my teachers whom I’ve never met. Thank you for writing characters for me to fall in love with and storylines I can escape to. I appreciate it!

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