Avi WordCraft blog

Writing Tip: Karen Cushman

I’ve invited a group of top-notch writers to share their writing tips with you this summer. Look for a new bit of learned experience each Tuesday.

Karen Cushman: Rules, rules, rules. Here’s my tip: make up your own rules, or better yet, have no rules. Court surprise, be open to the unexpected, listen to inaudible voices and see things unseen.

Stray from your outline, toss the index cards in the air and arrange them in a new order, ask yourself questions for which you don’t already know the answers: Why did I give this character red hair? How does she feel about this forest? If he were to respond differently, how would it change the story? If I made the hero a woman, what would that do to the plot?

Read and reread your drafts looking for surprises, the clues you’ve left yourself, looking for what the story is about, what you really want to say. Be curious, be aware, and be open. And let it flow.

Please visit Karen Cushman‘s website, where you can learn more about Karen’s most recent book, as well as her Newbery-honored classics.

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