We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix to Seven Stories this June. It goes without saying that we are HUGE fans of his epic fantasy adventures and we know you are too.
Winging his way to Newcastle – Garth will be hosting an eagerly awaited and oh so exclusive evening at Seven Stories on Tuesday 14 June.*
As you well know – Garth’s been writing since the 1990s and has produced some of the best fantasy series including The Old Kingdom, The Keys to the Kingdom and The Seventh Tower. His stories often feature children and young adults working through the very familiar challenge of growing up which is what makes them so appealing – this and the fact they are set in fantasy worlds which add a captivating mix of adventure, wonder, and danger. Time and again his legions of die-hard fans really rate Garth’s strong, female characters and he has inspired a generation of fantasy writers including the fantastic Veronica Roth (Divergent series) and Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instrument series).
We couldn’t miss this opportunity to pick the brains of the master of storytelling – so over to Garth who is going to give us a few pointers on how to get cracking on some creative writing of our own…enjoy.
*Why not take two minutes to nip over to our website here and book your place at our event before settling back into Garth’s Guest Blog post.
Perhaps the most important advice I can give about writing is to not take any one person’s advice about writing as the one and only way to write — including my own! Everyone finds their own techniques and methods, and sometimes they are not at all like anyone else’s or how some prominent author tells you how to write. If you like the sound of someone else’s process, give it a go. But don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out. Try some other techniques. Experiment.
Here are some very common pieces of writing advice which are often repeated, with some suggestions from me about how you might want to think more about them or modify them to work better for you.
Write every day
This does work for a lot of people, but there are also writers who only write once a week. Or who write for one frenzied month once a year. Give all of these methods a try. See what works. Try to find a rhythm that works for you.
Write what you know
Often people think this means you can only write about what you directly experience in everyday life, like being at school or your home life. But I think “what you know” includes everything you’ve read about, or seen on TV or at the movies, or heard someone talk about, or seen in the distance. So all of history is there for you, and all previous fiction, and every film, and every small detail of nature and humanity. You can take little pieces from everything that’s ever gone into your head, and refashion them using your imagination. You don’t need to be shot in the head to be able to write about it, because chances are you’ve seen it in films and TV and read about it in books. If you want a scene about riding horses and you’ve never ridden a horse, read a bunch of the best books with horses in them. Make notes. Then imagine.
Kill your darlings.
This means deleting the very personal touches that you really love putting in your work. Say for example you have pet toads and you love them, so you put pet toads in all your stories. Possibly that historical romance or spy thriller would be better without the pet toads. But not automatically, because of some overall rule. Maybe the pet toads actually make the story more unique and more interesting! Rather than kill, consider your darlings, and whether they add anything to the overall story, but don’t automatically cut a character, or a line of dialogue, or a descriptive passage just because you really love them.
We also wanted to know why Garth decided to return to the Old Kingdom…
I always thought I would come back to the Old Kingdom and write new novels. I just had other books that were at the top of my mind and needed to be written first. In fact, I made a note about the book that would become CLARIEL (published in 2014) while I was writing LIRAEL, in about 1999-2000. And I made a number of notes for what would become GOLDENHAND while I was finishing ABHORSEN in 2001. Sometimes books need to slowly grow inside my head before I start actively writing them, and I usually have half a dozen sort of pre-novels floating about in my mind before one of them grows to the point.
Thanks for taking time to write our guest post Garth!
*Author Event* Explore the Old Kingdom with Garth Nix Tuesday 14 June, 6-8pm
Meet Garth after the event and have your book signed. Event ticket £5. Admission not required. Suitable for ages 14+
Garth is also making a rare appearance in the UK as the Keynote speaker at Newcastle University’s Conference, Reading the Wall: Cultural Afterlives of Hadrian’s Wall on Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 June.