Holly Black was a guest lecturer at the 2019 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from her question-and-answer session, Holly answers questions about writing young adult and middle grade fiction. One student points out that some people think fantastic creatures must be a certain way. How do you deal with those expectations? Holly says that when writing in a tradition, you’re adding to a conversation. Bring your own perspective into the conversation based on who you are. Another student asks how you get into a teen’s head and see things through their eyes? Holly suggests writers try to remember being a teen. Think of what you did, how you felt. The error writers tend to make is to write about teens or children who are very concerned with the adults in their lives when they should be thinking about themselves and their peers. When asked the difference between middle grade and young adult, Holly explains that the readers are very different. You need a protagonist of the appropriate age. Middle grade stories are generally about family and friendship. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are examples. Young adult stories are usually about self-definition, friendship, and love, as the protagonist ventures outside of childhood into independence. YA should not involve an adult character looking back at her teen years. Middle grade and young adult fiction usually have a single viewpoint character; it is rare to have more.Continue reading “Odyssey Podcasts #129 (Holly Black), #130 (E.C. Ambrose) & #131 (Scott H. Andrews)”
Holly Black will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop. She is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Cruel Prince, and The Wicked King. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.
As a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers?
To write books for their reader selves, rather than the books they think they’re supposed to write. You are your best audience. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Holly Black”
Every month or two, the Odyssey Writing Workshop releases new podcasts created from excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Each one is ten to fifteen minutes long.
Our two newest podcasts feature authors and guest lecturers Alexander Jablokov (Brain Thief), from the 2014 summer workshop, and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), from the 2013 summer workshop. Alexander discusses how a character functions within a plot, and the many conventions authors use to present believable characters, while Holly explains how to create a magic system.
Other available podcasts include:
- Carrie Vaughn: Goal-setting for writers (#38)
- Lori Perkins: Agents, what they do, and what to look for in an agent (#37)
- Sheila Williams: Qualities of short story openings (#74)
- Nancy Holder: Short fiction and novel contracts; advances and royalties (#72 & #73)
- Lane Robins: Outlining techniques (#64)
- Craig Shaw Gardner: Writing humor in science fiction and fantasy (#18)
- Melissa Scott: Worldbuilding techniques (#5 & #21)
These podcasts and many more are available for free on the Odyssey Podcast page at http://www.sff.net/odyssey/podcasts.html. Here you may browse and download podcasts, or subscribe to podcasts so you automatically receive them upon release.
Odyssey Podcasts can also be found in the iTunes store (for free): https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/odyssey-sf-f-writing-workshop/id213992784?mt=2.