My friend, local YA writer Lori Weber, came to work with my Writing for Children class this morning at Marianopolis College. Lori is the author of five novels for young adults, the most recent of whichis If You Live Like Me.
Though I've heard Lori speak before, every time I hear her, I learn something new. Here's some of the super interesting tips she shared today. Lori advised my creative writing students to "try to tap into emotions you remember... paying attention to your feelings is so important if you're a writer."
She also talked a lot about first chapters -- which was great since, for the end of this term, my students have to write the first chapter of their own YA novel. Lori said how, "in the first chapter, you're planting seeds, sowing your garden." She recommended that first chapters have the following elements: action, dialogue, some description and some thoughts." She also made an interesting point when she said YA writers should give the parents in their stories interesting occupations that help advance the stories' themes. In If You Like Like Me, Cheryl's dad is an anthropologist who studies evolving communities -- which dovetails nicely with the novel's theme of adapting to change.
After class, Lori stuck around to work individually with students. While she was doing that, I had my own visitor, Bianca David, a second-year Journalism student at Concordia who wanted to ask me a few questions for an assignment she is doing for her Arts Reporting class. We actually had a lively chat -- and Bianca told me that in addition to her interest in journalism, she'd also like to write fiction. Then she told me how what's keeping her back is a lack of confidence... I explained that that's exactly how it was for me. I told her how my work as a journalist helped give me the confidence to write fiction. The last thing Bianca said before leaving my office was: "Maybe I can be a writer one day." So Bianca, and all you other aspiring writers out there, of course you can... wanting it is where it all begins. Now as the Nike ad tells us, "Just do it!"