Help me welcome today’s guest, Jessica White, on Write Stuff Wednesday. I enjoyed hearing Jessica’s inspiring quote and finding out a little more about her passion for writing.
“When readers feel strongly, their hearts open. Your stories can not only reach them for a moment, but they can change them forever. I don’t care about what you write, how you write it, your choices in publishing, or what you want out of your career. What I want is to feel deeply as I read your work. I want to feel connected to you and your characters in the way I do to the most memorable classics and the most stunning new titles I’ll read this year.” ― Donald Maass, The Emotional Craft of Fiction
I’ve had the privilege of spending over eleven hours of conference learning from literary agent Donald Maass. Each time I read his books or listen to him speak, I want to be a better writer. His latest book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, finally put into words my desire to write books that aren’t just satisfying reads, but stories that resonate and reach into the soul, creating space for God to work.
To write books that move people equates to books folks will want on their shelves and will lend or buy for their friends. I see too many writers write for the market. They write stories with characters that I find interesting for the moment and forget the moment I pick up another book. I walk away from the story the same person, I started as.
The rare occasion I get a book hangover, I often find myself staring at the ceiling talking to God about how I need to change or how I want to be more like, or less like, some character. How I wish the fictional people were real because I could use a friend or mentor like them.
As Maass says, to deepen the emotional experience of the reader isn’t to tell them how the character feels, it’s putting the reader so deeply in their shoes that they experience the emotions themselves. And no two readers will have the same take away, because their own life experiences and situations will color in the details.
This is what separates good writers from great writers. This is why folks still read the classics. Jane Austen’s fan club still exists because her characters, not the style of her writing, still resonate with readers. We all want to fall in love. We all know how it feels to be invisible to the person we have affections for or the focus of unwanted attention by someone we can’t stand. Thus despite the antiquated writing the story still resonates.
So my advice to all writers is stop worrying about riding the trends. Give readers those life-changing experiences. If you write romantic comedy, make them want to be a better lover. If you write science-fiction, make them want to make this world a better place. If you write fantasy, make them grow in courage to face their dragons or to see the difficult road often holds the most adventure. And we’ll make the world a better place one book at a time.
Jessica White is a prayer warrior who loves to encourage and teach others how to create safe spaces for the hurting and lost. In 2014, she graduated from Western Governor’s University with a B.A. in Educational Studies and published her first book, Surviving the Stillness. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She also is an admin and contributor for 10 Minute Novelists. She created and manages their annual 365 Writing Challenge, which encourages writers to develop the habit of writing daily. You can find out more about her and her books at authorjessicawhite.wordpress.com