Writers often hope to reach that coveted status of award-winning or bestseller. Authors Jody Lynn Nye, Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi, and Tamsin Silver discussed elements of fantastic stories and their top tips for new writers Monday at 9AM on the Fan Tracks channel.
While there is no recipe, there are some key characteristics that typically appeal to readers. For Silver, the story must speak, move, and relate to you. That feeling of being hit in the chest. In a bestseller, Nye said that even if you don’t like the main character, you want to follow their journey to see where it leads; while an award-winning book often has a meaningful story. Sawyer boiled it down to character: He feels opposite of Nye in that a likeable character is seen in bestsellers and award winners often have a somewhat unlikeable main character. Scalzi classified the stories that win awards are the ones that are stylistically bold with a new view and characters who don’t play nice.
The panelists also shared their one line of advice for aspiring writers. Scalzi said write what you want to write about. Sawyer added to write what you want to read. Nye said that you need to love what you’re writing in order for that enthusiasm to show through in the writing. Silver’s suggestion is the one that can sometimes be the hardest: Sit down, butt in chair, and write.