Did you sometimes doubt about your books?


I am a sixteen year old girl from Germany and I started to read your Alice books when I was very little. For me it feels like I’ve grown up with Alice. She was always there for me when I had a bad day or felt sad because in this case I just started reading and suddenly felt so much better. I wanna thank you for creating all these great characters that I love so much, and I wanna ask you something.
I think your books are absolutely great- but did you sometimes doubt about them or thought, that a story you’re writing isn’t really good? I’m just asking because I am also trying to write books and I’m trying it for years now, I started writing stories when I was a child and since that it is my dream to become an author just as you are who inspires people and makes them happy. But every time I start writing a story, there are these doubts that it isn’t good enough and nobody will want to read it. I almost never finish a story.
But you wrote so many books and I’m just very interested if you ever fought with problems like that or maybe just have a tip about writing amazing books like the Alice books.
It would mean a lot to me if you answer.

Phyllis replied:

There is much, too much, that I could write about this, and not enough space.  I would recommend that you read two books of mine–How I Came to be a Writer, and The Craft of Writing the Novel.  The first book tells how I began publishing stories, then novels; the second book talks about all the things I think about before and during the writing.  Generally, I begin with a certain situation: an abused dog keeps running away from it’s owner, coming to me, and my parents insist I have to return it.  What do I do?  or  I’m a motherless girl, being raised by my dad and older brother, and I’m looking for a role model.  I’m desperately hoping to be assigned to the homeroom of the most beautiful teacher in school, but I get the one I most don’t want to get instead.  What do I do?   From this point on, I have to feel like an actress on stage:  I have to feel the part of every character in my story, from the most attractive to the villain, if there is one.  And I don’t start writing until I know how I want to begin, what the big climax will be, and how it’s going to end, plus a few of the big scenes or stepping stones along the way.  If you really feel the plot–goose bumpies if it’s scary, tearful if it’s sad–you will probably write in a way that will register with readers and make them keep reading to the end.  If I do feel that the writing is going flat, I stop, back up, read to the point where the writing started getting boring, delete the flat part, and take a break, waiting until I feel like going back to my book, and figuring what I would want to happen if I were the reader, or be afraid is going to happen next,  or would be surprised if it happened next, and then I’m inspired to keep at it.  Best of luck to you!

Posted on: February 26, 2017


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