I had the fortune of meeting Hugh Howey a week ago, which was incredible! I became a fan since I was craving a new dystopian since Marie Lu finished her Legend trilogy (the only dystopian that satisfied me since Hunger Games) and decided to give Wool a try. I admit that in the beginning, I wasn't very immersed in the story, but by Wool 3, when Juliette was introduced, I was hooked. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, I wanted to know what happens next. I finished the Wool omnibus, bought Shift and Dust and devoured those in a few days. I mentioned to my friend Irene, hey, I've been reading these awesome dystopian books lately by Hugh Howey...and then she told me, did you know he is coming to Taiwan in February?
My first response was, are you kidding me? But it turned out--it's true! He really was coming! *cue for fangirly squeal*
So when February came, I booked the train and headed to Taipei. Originally I intended to go to the Taipei Book Fair, where he was giving a talk, but Irene found that he also was making an appearance at Eslite bookstore (a lovely 24-hour bookstore), so we decided to go there instead of fighting through crowds. Besides, I always buy books online now, of which 99% are ebooks.
At Eslite, Hugh had a panel discussion that he shared with another Taiwanese author, Wu Ming-Yi, who writes literary/naturalist fiction, but surprisingly both have a lot in common in writing : )
Here I have compiled a list of their writing tips. I took a few notes, but there was this girl who filled page after page—I should have borrowed her notebook! I’m sure some of the stuff Hugh said has been said before, but I’ll post it anyway:
1. When you get up at 5 am, you find out there are so many more hours in the day. (so true! I’m implementing this now, and surprisingly it isn’t as tiring as I imagined)
2. If you find writing a lonely job or don't feel like writing, kill off your characters. Then create new ones. New characters that you love and won't make you feel lonely.
3. Write the stories you want to read. I get nervous when facing a hundred people in this room (But Hugh looked completely in his element), so if I’m thinking about the thousands of readers who will read my books, I can’t write.
4. But don't ignore your readers either. Ignore the critics, the university professors, but also listen to your readers.
5. What's most important about my writing is that I try to write about real characters, about human nature. The great thing about Frankenstein, Margaret Atwood, Michael Crichton- is that their books make you think, make you reflect on human nature.
1. An editor is vital. Especially with long stories, you'll always forget something or remember details incorrectly. I wrote a story with a character called A, but somehow in the end he was called B, and I never noticed until a reader alerted me.
2. When you publish, you will always influence someone, so always keep your readers in mind. Chekhov wrote for money, but no one denies he is one of the world’s greatest writers. I am not saying that you have to write to market, but you need to have a number of ideal readers in mind.
3. Writing is like farming; you labor and sweat and finally receive the fruits of your labor. Doing physical work is in a way similar to writing.
I hope this has been helpful! And of course, a BIG thanks to Hugh for visiting! I’ve only read his posts on kindleboards and then his books, never dreaming that he’d come to Taiwan one day (and so soon!), especially when we’re such a distant little island.
ps. If you haven't read Wool, go read it NOW!