Why Do You Write?

The following notes and bits of wisdom come from author Bruce Coville and were jotted down during his 2008  SCBWI LA Keynote Speech:

Ask Yourself…

  • “Why do you write?”
  • After you’ve asked yourself why you write, push the “why” as far as you can! (i.e. I like to tell stories. WHY? Stories help us to connect to one another. WHY do you want to connect to someone else? etc…) Do this in order to see the truth underneath. Find out for yourself what lies at the root, at the deepest level.

Why Do We Write for Children?

  • The function of the child through history: The child began as economic contributor, this then changed to an object of love, and now is a consumer.
  • Children are denied real work that they love. Children want to contribute.
  • Children need hero’s, real hero’s.
  • Children ask themselves “Who do I want to be like?” not “Do I want to be good?”
  • “Every day doors close in children’s hearts.” – Coville

Never Give Up!

  • Dr. Seuss got 27 rejections for the story about Mulberry St.
  • Exceed expectations!
  • “No jump no wings, period.” (You have to take the risk).

The Seven Sins for Writers:

  • Dullness
  • Sloth
  • Perfectionism
  • Repetition
  • Cliché
  • Inattention
  • Clumsiness

The Seven Heavenly Virtues for Writers:

  • Passion
  • Sensuousness
  • Wisdom
  • Guile
  • Humor
  • Courage
  • Joy

Tips For Writers:

  • When writing a scene ask yourself how many senses you have engaged in your writing. You need at least three out of five.
  • No Character lives in isolation, always think about the implications of your character’s actions and how they affect the rest of the people in your character’s life.
  • EXERCISE: Take each grade from first through sixth grade and write down your most significant memory from each of those grades. See what stories you have.

Bruce Coville is the bestselling author of dozens of books, including The Monsters of Morley Manor, Armageddon Summer (cowritten with Jane Yolen), The Skull of Truth, Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, and Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. He lives in Syracuse, NY.

3 thoughts on “Why Do You Write?

  1. I read the post with great interest and particularly liked the Dr. Seuss info and the 7 Sins versus the 7 Virtues.

    Thanks so much for all you do, Ingrid. I wish you a delightful Holiday Season and much success in 2011!

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