Hi again, Saundra Mitchell here! It was so nice to meet everybody last time. I thought today, I would talk about becoming a writer. (Or rather, being a writer at a young age.)
The first stories I remember writing were in Kindergarten. I definitely played make-believe before that, but Kindergarten was when I realized I could write down my stories and save them for later. I was in love with the names Rose and Penelope, so I wrote about them a lot.
There were plenty of writing activities at school, but I don’t remember them making me want to tell more stories. Instead, it was the books I read that inspired me. In elementary school, I really loved BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Patterson, and THE EGYPT GAME by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
Once I started reading books that excited me, I wanted to write stories that excited me, too. Sometimes I would try to copy the style and voice of my favorites. Other times, I tried to write “my version” of a story that I especially loved.
The first approach is a really good tool for learning the structure of a story and how storytelling rules work— but it’s not very good for writing original fiction. The second, however, trying to write my version of a story— I still do that, today.
When I started writing my first novel, SHADOWED SUMMER, my plan was to write my version of Annette Curtis Klause’s THE SILVER KISS. Basically, I thought I wanted to tell a ghostly love story with a bittersweet ending.
Instead, what I ended up writing was a southern gothic ghost story about families.
Because I used my own voice and style, “my version” of Klause’s book turned out to be something completely original
Writing “your version” is a great way to practice all the skills you need as a writer. One of the most fun ways to do that is to get involved in writing fan fiction. Say you really, really love HARRY POTTER— but maybe you wanted it to end differently. Or you have a cool idea for a class that J.K. Rowling never put in the books.
If you write out your version of what happened— that’s fan fiction. And there are tons of places on the Internet where you can share your work with other fans. I really started developing as a writer when I got involved in fan fiction in my twenties.
My advice? Read stuff you love (and watch stuff you love; are you kidding? I’m crazy about genre tv!) Then practice voice and style writing your version of someone else’s story.
All that fan fiction will help you sharpen your craft as a writer, and you might meet your new best friend doing it. (I did!)
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