Looking for the silver lining
19th Jul 20

Looking for the silver lining

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE, the new book by RENEE WATSON, is about an ordinary family trying to get through tough times. Here, Renee Watson tells us what's next, and gives some great writing tips!

In WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE, Ryan's unemployed father has found a new job, but it pays less than the old one so they have to move and sell one of their cars.

While Ryan has a lot on her mind, she still finds ways to make sunshine through the gloom.

RENEE tells us she is now working on book two in the series, and she gives some great writing tips:

Q: Do you plan to revisit Ryan and her family?

A: I am working on book two in the Ryan Hart series. I'm picking things up where Ways To Make Sunshine left off - Ryan has a new baby sister and that's bringing a lot of change into her world. Some of it good, some of it not so good.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your writing process - paper or computer, and how do you edit your work?

A: I always start my first drafts by handwriting in my journal. There's something about pen to paper for me that makes me feel more connected to my characters. It also makes me slow down.

Once I feel like there's a story to tell, I move over to my computer and type out of the rest. A lot of times, when I'm stuck in the middle of a draft, I go back to handwriting and that usually helps to get me unstuck.

My revision process usually includes sharing drafts with trusted readers who will give me feedback. I ask them: What do you want more of? and What questions do you have? These questions help me go deeper when I go back to revise.

When I'm in the final stages of revision, I use Post-It Notes and storyboard the major scenes in each chapter. I stick them to the wall in my office space and then I can see the full story. I take a different color of Post-Its and fill in the gaps, marking where new scenes need to be added. This helps me see where the story is going and where I need to add more. It also gives me a clear checklist for the next round of revising.

Q: What advice would you give to young aspiring writers?

A: I encourage young writers to read, read, read. If there's a book you love, read it again and figure out what the author did to make you love that book.

How did they end the chapters? What made you want to keep turning the page? Whatever your answer is, try to emulate that in your own work.

I also think it's important to be a good listener. Good writers pay attention to what's going on around them, they are observers. To be a strong writer, I think you have to talk less and listen more.

Q: What are your favourite escapes from writing?

A: I enjoy down time with my family. We love taking road trips, going to the movies, and family dinners. I also try to take the in other types of art, like going to plays, live music venues, museums.

When I'm not writing, I try to "fill the well".

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