I'm so thrilled to have author Liza Wiemer visit at gilagreenwrites. With all of the difficulties of the current pandemic, it has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful writers from all over the world as more people reach out than ever before. Today Liza shares a valuable tip for writers at any stage of manuscript development.
Liza Wiemer is an award-winning educator with over twenty years of teaching experience. Her second young adult novel is titled, The Assignment (Delacorte Press, 2020.) The Assignment will be published in Russia, Poland, Italy, and South Korea. Hello?, her debut contemporary YA novel, was named a Goodreads Best Young Adult Novel of the Month. In addition, Liza has had two adult nonfiction books published and several short stories included in the New York Times bestselling Small Miracles series. She has had articles published in various newspapers and magazines. A graduate of UW-Madison, Liza is the mother of two married sons and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband.
Without a doubt, asking who, what, where, when, how are critical to every novel. However, when it comes to your writing, "Why?" is the most important question to ask.
Asking and answering "why?" brings layers to the story. It helps us dig deeper into our characters' motivations and perspectives. It shows how the past impacts the present. It helps us understand a character's choices, actions, motivations. It brings meaning to a physical object.
"Why" allows us to cut a beloved sentence or scene. It leads to those "ah-ha!" moments, the surprising moments when you discover something new, unusual, or shocking about your character. In turn, you now have the perfect environment to create a moment that's completely unexpected.
Recently, a writer friend had me read part of her manuscript. She wrote, "If I leave now, I'll be home by three o'clock."
This sentence stood out because I didn't understand why it was there. What purpose does it serve? Why is getting home by three o'clock important to the story? (She never answered that within her novel.) When I asked her, she said it really didn't have any importance. She cut it! Do you have sentences like that?
MIT professor and award-winning author, Laura Harrington, said that every word you write in your novel must have muscle. If a scene serves several purposes, even better. Always pay attention to your whys?!
Me Before You author Jojo Moyes once told me that she never regretted anything she cut, only the things she didn't cut. Think about it: Why is this scene important?
To help you with your writing, I've created a WHY list of questions.
Here are some questions to ask during the writing process:
Good luck, Liza