Gary D. Schmidt {wooo!}

Here he is! {and Cheri!}

So I just got back from seeing Gary Schmidt and can I say OMG this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to writing.
He gave so much good advice. I wanted to film, but sadly my phone kinda sucks and I wasn’t close enough. So I had my amazing mother take amazing notes for me.
Here’s a little bit of writing advice from him to us {in my own words, of course.}

He said the first thing he does when writing a YA novel is establish voice. Well, I think I knew that but now you all know, too. He then read us the beginnging of WEDNESDAY WARS {which I never have read, but the beginning does have a very distinct voice. So everyone check out the voice in that one (it was a Newbery Honor book, BTW!).
He also said when starting a middle grade novel that you should begin with action, make some trouble for your character.  

Someone asked about his writing process. He said he writes only on a typewriter :O He also writes just 500 words a day.
This is the way Gary does it– NO MORE THAN 500 words. Even if he’s in the middle of some awesome scene, he says he’ll stop, make a little note BY HAND on the side of what happens next, and then he picks up that scene the next day. That sounds difficult but also pretty legit, right? Right.
Gary says when he starts a new writing day, he likes to begin by reading the last chapter he’s been working on, and then continue from there. If this is the first chapter, he’ll start by reading his first two pages, and then write his next two pages, then the next day he’ll read all four pages before writing his next 500 words. {Does this make sense?} He said that if you want to get your book done you need to just do it.  Even holidays, weekdays, birthdays, every day.
Here are a few of his books:

The Wednesday Wards
First Boy
In God’s Hands
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Mara’s Stories
Anson’s Way
The Sin Eater

Listening to him him talk/read was pretty inspiring. It really made me want to be a better writer, and actually write EVERY SINGLE DAY. 
If I didn’t look at him while he talked it was like hearing Edward Norton {Actor, Fight Club} give a speech on writing.
I enjoyed it.


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6 responses to “Gary D. Schmidt {wooo!}

  1. How interesting. The way he writes sounds very similar to how Linda Sue Park writes. She received a Newberry medal for A Single Shard. She starts out writing by reading what she’s already written and she edits as she reads. Then after she’s spent her time revising, she’ll write two new pages a day. Even if they’re crappy, she gets them out, then she’ll revise them later.

    My favorite story that she told–She was signing books and a boy in line says “I can’t believe I’m going to meet my favorite author!” He gets up to the front of the line and shows her this very ragged copy and says “I wanted to tell you how many times I read this book but I lost count after 64” She said that she tries to make every sentence she writes worth reading 64 times.

    (or something like that. Been a few months since I heard her speak.)

  2. Carol

    At some point, we need to talk about the revision process here on the blog. The truth is, there is no ‘right’ way. This is Gary’s way and it works very well for him. Why? Because he writes consistently. Write 500 words three days in a row then stop and you will have 1500 words. Write 500 words a day for a year and you could have two complete novels.

    Wanna get a book published? You have to write.

    What I enjoyed about this reading was how distinct of a voice each novel opening had. Nice and strong.

    Oh no! I just looked out the window and saw falling leaves.
    Dang it!!!!!!

  3. Charlotte

    My favorite thing that Gary said was “Never be in a hurry. Your writing is never served by being in a hurry.”

    I think we who are aspiring, as yet unpublished writers are so concerned with reaching that goal that we just want to get words on the page and get them to an agent, editor, publisher; anyone who can help us get our book into print. Gary reminded me that the important thing is writing good stuff. Not just publishing mediocre stuff that may have an opening in the market.

  4. Ooh! Ohh! I loved Wednesday Wars. I thrust it at my kid who’s wrinkling her nose at Shakespeare. (Also rats, but some of don’t get over that particular wrinkle.)

  5. Hilary

    Another aspect of Gary’s writing process I found interesting was his refusal to revise until he finished a complete draft of his book. He said when he was writing First Boy (maybe?) he would crank out his 500 words and think, “Oh, it’s going to be so good to edit this.” Probably helps that he uses a typewriter, so there isn’t the temptation to start chopping things up and rearranging like mad.

    I have the worse time not micromanaging my words as soon as they make their debut. Poor words.


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