The writerly wisdom of Katherine Paterson

“If you call yourself a writer, you can read all you want and people think you are working.”
Katherine Paterson
I came upon this quote from Katherine Paterson, children’s writer extraordinaire, this afternoon. It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve become a “conscious” reader. Before, I simply read books, quickly, without giving much thought to things the author had done that worked or didn’t work, or how he/she used words, plot and character to draw readers into the story. I recently read two books that inspired me: “Watching Jimmy” by Nancy Hartry (Cdn. Library Assn. Book of the Year) and “So B. It” by Sarah Weeks. Both books have a pre-teen female main character, as does the manuscript I’m working on now, and I absolutely loved the voices of Carolyn and Heidi, as created by their authors. Voice is such a difficult thing to explain and understand, but I really have come to believe it’s the single most important factor in creating a believable, compelling book people will want to read. Voice is the reason people root for the main character; it allows the reader to become part of the main character’s world, and it’s the reason you feel let down, and maybe even lonely, after turning the final page of a great book. Well-written main characters are people we want to continue to know, long after the end of the book. I’ve always loved to read, but it’s a different experience reading while paying attention to what the author has created, and how – now, if I could just start remembering titles and authors’ names…

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