Monday, February 15, 2010

Interview with author Jill Eileen Smith on the Craft of Writing- Part 1

Jill Eileen Smith wrote for many years before having marvelous success with her first release, Michal, a Biblical story about King David’s first wife. The second book in The Wives of King David series is Abigail and released this month. Once she found her passion in Biblical fiction, Jill took off with it and her love for the time period is reflected in the success of her novel. I am pleased to share an interview I had with Jill recently on the writing craft. Thank you, Jill for being with us today!

1: How long did you work on your writing before you were published?

About 20 years. I began writing fiction when my youngest son was a toddler. I continued studying the craft during 12 years of homeschooling my sons. After the youngest graduated, God opened the door for me to sell my first series.

2 What are two mistakes you wish you had never made?

Hmm...I suppose there are a lot of things I could have done differently in my desire to see my work in print sooner than God intended. No two specifics come to mind, but if I was to give advice to new authors, I would suggest not starting off learning to write on a two-volume epic of fiction! Start smaller. Learn to write with shorter pieces, articles, short stories, and study the craft by reading good books and attending writers' conferences as well as actually writing. I started out big and had to back-track until I actually understood what I was doing.

3: What resources did you find the most helpful for learning the craft?

Self Editing for Fiction Writers taught me the most of any book on the craft. I learned interior monologue and POV (point of view) among other things. And Writing the Breakout Novel taught me more subtleties like less is more, and how to evoke emotion by understating rather than writing emotion that is over the top.

4: How does an author "find their voice"?

Voice is a difficult thing to define. Sometimes writers resist critique of their work because the critiquer's suggestions might interfere with the way they are used to saying things, fearful of losing their voice. But often those suggestions are the very thing they need to help solidify what their voice will eventually become. Like learning a musical instrument, voice takes time and much practice to develop. Sometimes an author uses more telling than showing, writing more flowery description with less dialogue and might want to consider that his or her voice, while in truth, those are things the author still needs to refine to improve the quality of the craft.

Some writers will have a more lyrical sound to their work, but an author who writes with a lot of purple prose, for instance, isn't promoting voice so much as showing a weakness in craft. Voice comes through strongest when an author has developed a good understanding of all of the elements of good writing and found his or her own unique way of putting them together into their story. Back to the musician example - until the piano student has mastered dynamics, fingering, sight-reading, touch, and put many hours into practice, they will only sound like a beginner or a decent copy of a master musician. Until they can surpass sounding like a copy of someone else and put their own inflections into their music, they will not have found their musical voice. You know you are on the right track to finding your voice when your work evokes emotion in the listener or the reader. Art is about the experience. A writer wants to give the reader an emotional experience. When a writer can do that with skill, they've found their voice.

Be sure and come back tomorrow for Part 2 where Jill will annouce the question on how she protects her writing time among other hard hitting questions!

1 comment:

  1. wow! Great advice from a book author who has been there, I really got alot out of this.

    Thank you!

    Leader/Founder of the Chick Lit Book Club & Review

    LucieInCA at aol dot com


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