— Written by Sara Grant
How do you know what to write? What ideas will work?
The first book in my new, middle-grade series Chasing Danger will be published by Scholastic on 7th April. This is a series I’ve wanted to write since I was eight years old and stayed up late to sneakily watch Charlie’s Angels (the TV show). I’ve been tinkering with this idea for years. How could I put my own spin on an action-adventure series? My answer was to write what I love.
Why was I so obsessed with Charlie’s Angels when I was young? I had the Charlie’s Angel’s action figures, board game, and radio. I still have my complete collection of Charlie’s Angels trading cards. And – perhaps, I shouldn’t admit this – but, yes, I was even a member of the Cheryl Ladd fan club. (Cheryl played Kris Munroe, my favourite Angel.)
For me, the heart of the show was girl power, mysteries and friendship. Three women – which was very unusual in the 1970s – caught the bad guys and looked fab doing it. (I’ll admit I practiced running in high heels – like the Angels did in almost every episode – with disastrous results.)
I also love to travel. The first book in the Chasing Danger series sprang from my trip to the Maldives a few years ago. While my husband sunned himself and read a series of books, I plotted and planned mayhem. I envisioned and then pitched Chasing Danger as Die Hard – one of my all-time favourite action movies – on a desert island.
I’m currently writing the second book in the series which is Mystery at the Ice Hotel. Yep, while at this amazing winter wonderland, I was imagining snowmobile chases and dead bodies in blocks of ice.
I’ve loved every single minute of writing this series. I hope that because I’ve had a blast writing it, readers will have a blast reading it.
As writers we can get swept away with book trends, what we should write, what someone convinces us might sell, stories that fill a gap in the market, and on and on…
My advice to you is: Write what you love!
If ever you are working on a draft – maybe you are writing chapter seven or reading the thirteenth draft – and you yawn, stop writing. If you dread sitting down at the computer and working on your story, that’s a bad sign. If you can’t wait to finish this draft because you want to work on something else, by all means switch projects. If you aren’t excited by writing your story, how can you expect readers to be excited about reading it?
Now I don’t mean if you are struggling to solve a plot problem or tame an unruly character. Writing can be difficult. Revision can be endless. But if you are bored then figure out how to interject a spark into your story or set it aside.
I’ve read Chasing Danger so many times I could probably quote the opening word-for-word by heart. But every single time I get to ‘the end’, I feel a thrill. I’m satisfied and overwhelmed – every single time. Are you in love with your current work-in-progress? Or if you are still searching for the right idea, why not make a list of books, TV shows, and films that you loved as a child or teen? Analyse the list. What made you love those stories? How can you give your reader that same experience?