As some of you may have heard, I had the great privilege of sitting in a talk given by the illustrious Jerry B. Jenkins this afternoon. Most well known for his work on the “Left Behind” series, I was much more impressed by the fact that his 181st book was released this week. He had some great advice to the young writers who were sitting in the auditorium, eagerly soaking up his every word. Here are some of his most notable pieces of encouragement.
“If you aren’t moved, your reader won’t be either.” Jerry explained that the reader feels ten times what the author feels about what he or she writes. A writer shouldn’t be afraid to put passion into the writing.
“I knew it had legs because I didn’t forget it.” At this point, Jerry was talking about his favorite book of the ones he’s written, “Riven”. He had the idea over 20 years before finally writing it. So if there’s an idea that you can’t get out of your head, chances are it’s a good one.
“You never want to feel like you’ve arrived. You always want to be learning.” I think this applies to anything, not just learning. You will never know everything, so it’s good to realize this and always strive to actively learn more.
“The more I write, the better I am at it.” As with many activities, practices hones skill. So it only makes sense that practicing writing will yield better results.
“Research makes for better fiction, but you don’t want to let the research show.” Jerry explained to us that for some reason, fiction has to be believable and non-fiction has to be unbelievable in order to be successful (he also mentioned something about a possible non-fiction book entitled “Chicken Soup for the Left Behind Amish Vampire”. That certainly sounds unbelievable to me). I don’t know why it works that way, but it does.
So there you have it. Advice for young writers from a professional. If Jerry B. Jenkins doesn’t know writing, I don’t know who does.