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…

About janlcoates

I'm a Nova Scotia children's author. My first picture book, "Rainbows in the Dark", was published in 2005, by Second Story Press. My young adult novel, "A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk" was published in the fall of 2010, by Red Deer Press.
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