Children’s author Walter Dean Myers has had over 100 books published. He grew up in Harlem and his writing tends to take an inner city perspective, although he’s also written fantasy, non-fiction, and other types of books. This book is basically a description of his methods–how we writes and why.
This writing book is more practical than a lot I’ve come across–it’s low on morale boosting, rather getting into Myers’s daily schedule and his process from beginning to end of book. And Myers does have a process. He has a particular outlining method, a certain way to build characters and settings, a highly specific plotting technique, and so on.
I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer myself. Myers knows writers like me, and has an opinion on them: “They take a lot longer to write their books than I do.” I found it notable that he says his characters never surprise him. To me, one of the pleasures of writing is that sometimes my characters do things I don’t expect. A more rigorous method seems to take that away.
And yet, I’m glad I read this. In fact, I may very well end up using some of his methods. I have an idea for a somewhat more complicated novel than I’ve written so far, and after my current WiP, I will likely take it up (“Perhaps sometime in mid-2013,” I think to myself with wild optimism.). This more complicated book will benefit from having a structure I’ve worked out ahead of time, I think.
And who knows, maybe like Mr. Myers, I’ll find that the more I plan my book, the easier it will be to sell.