FAQ questions by readers! Send in your question: firstname.lastname@example.org (srsly, I would love to hear from you :D)
Q: Is Nothing Happened a sequel to Saving Hamlet?
A: Nothing Happened (Disney Hyperion, spring 2018) is a stand alone novel, with all new characters. I can’t wait for you to meet them! More info and a cover reveal coming soon.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a writer?
A: Here are a variety of tips for your future writing dreams!
- Read!! Read what you like to read
- Conquer your writing anxiety by setting a timer and committing to writing for twenty minutes. I promise you’ll write more!
- If you’re going to be querying a book, or any piece of writing, don’t send it out too early. Revise revise revise until you feel your work is as good as you can make it without an agent/an editor
- Write what you like to write. Write the stories you find when you look into your heart. The stories YOU have to tell are the ones that you’ll be able to work on for years and years <3
- Stand fast for your voice and your vision
Q: I’m doing English literature in a levels, and I can never seem to upgrade my grade from C to A! I love the subject but found myself struggling when trying to write an essay analyzing them. Do you have any tips that could help me improve my grade?
A: I’m so sorry you’re struggling. I’m flattered you asked and I DO have some tips for writing about Shakespeare academically:
- When picking an essay topic, concentrate on what you find most interesting in the play, even if it feels obscure. For Richard III, in my undergraduate course on the histories, I was really into the supernatural and women, so I wrote about that. Even though the main character wasn’t a central focus of my essay, it was a successful piece because I was excited about that I was writing. Shakespeare includes so many subplots in his plays, utilize them!
- Give yourself a narrow topic. Shakespeare is deep, and you’ll find that with even the narrowest focus, you’ll have a lot to say. For King Lear, I once wrote a 10+ pager about one word and how it functioned in the play. What small scene could you focus on? What’s one of the themes that you could show examples of? What does one comment tell you about a character’s back story?
- Don’t worry so much about “analyzing” the plays. You love the subjects, so you probably have a lot of thoughts about why you love them bouncing around in your head. That’s the start of your analysis!
- Free writing! This helps me immensely with Shakespeare — it’s good to let yourself write without pressure. Take an open document, and write down everything you think about the play. Give yourself half an hour, and just get it all down: you’ll come out with several thesis ideas, I’m sure, and probably a whole slew of supporting points. There will be a lot of incoherent stuff you won’t use too, but that’s how you get to the good stuff.
- Read secondary criticism, and get other people’s opinions! Take notes while you’re reading the lit crit, and you’ll find pieces of your argument begin to fit together when you write.
- Watch some adaptations! With so much Shakespeare available on the interwebz, it’s a great opportunity to watch some of the plays. Seeing the material being performed, even in multiple productions, will shed light on how you see the characters yourself. Knowing your own interpretation will help you in writing your essays.
- Quotes quotes quotes! Use quotes to support your arguments. You need to back up your interpretations with textual evidence. My professors would only listen to a theory about a character for so long before saying, “That’s great — can you point to somewhere in the text that supports your idea?”