Monday, November 30, 2009

Advice for Writers from Carrie Ryan

Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH grabbed me from the first line and didn’t let go until the end. Her workshop at the SCBWI-Carolinas Fall Conference was equally engaging.

Don’t let her bubbly personality fool you. Ms. Ryan does bad things to her characters and challenges others to do the same. Her advice? Take readers to the point where they believe the situation can’t possibly get worse, then, make it worse. Keep raising the stakes. Pull away your main character’s support system. Don’t shy away from situations where reaching the external goal would mean not reaching the internal goal. And by the way, there doesn’t have to be a happy ending.

Carrie Ryan also discussed her theory of credibility points. She believes readers give writers about 100 credibility points. If a writer asks the reader to believe something big (like in the existence of zombies), that will take lots of points. This means the writer should add details to make the smaller leaps of faith more believable.

So, how about you? Do you let your main character struggle or are you too quick to race to the rescue? Please leave a comment and share.