Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing contemporary young adult novels. Learn “How she writes” and get some great tips to add to your own writer’s toolbox!
What do you write?
I write contemporary YA fiction.
How long have you been an SCBWI member?
I joined SCBWI in 2009. Best decision I ever made. Between the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and what I’ve learned through the workshops and conferences, it has been life-changing.
I used to have my computer set up on my dining room table, because that space gets the best natural light and looks out on the street. I find it very inspiring. One Christmas, I went downstairs to find my dining room table had been replaced with a beautiful desk and it has been my dedicated workspace ever since. Suffice it to say, guests now have to eat in the kitchen!
What are your tools?
I prefer to write exclusively on my computer. I keep a journal where I write down ideas and snippets of dialogue that come to me, but the actual writing process has to be done on my Mac. Mad props to those writers who can write entire novels in longhand – that is so not me.
What is your process?
When I first get an idea, I like to read every book I can that is similar in that genre. Not only does it help generate ideas, but it also shows me what is already out there so I don’t accidentally duplicate something. Nothing is worse than coming up with a killer idea only to discover it already exists in printed form and you have to start over. I never outline – I’m a total pantser – so I usually have an idea of characters and setting, and where I want the book to begin and how I want it to end, and just sit down and go. I find outlines very restrictive, and when the characters start talking to me, they often have their own ideas about where they want the story to go anyway. I try and write within the same timeframe every day, usually while my daughter is at school so the house is silent, or on weekends before everyone is awake. There is usually a lot of caffeine involved.
What is the easiest thing about writing for you?
Definitely dialogue. Dialogue is my jam. I have a film background, so when I write, it is almost like a movie unfolding in my head – very dialogue driven. I love creating distinctive voices and getting to know the characters by the way they speak to one another.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Getting started. My head is full of ideas, but actually committing them to paper and finding that perfect entry point that plunges the reader headfirst into the story is often a process of trial and error. I probably start a book at least a half dozen times before I find that sweet spot.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever gotten?
I credit YA author Jessica Brody for this nugget, which she parlayed at a writing workshop I took years ago: Always end every chapter on a cliffhanger. If you always leave the reader dying to know what happens next, they won’t be able to put the book down, and it will also naturally keep the tension and the pacing high.
Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing contemporary young adult novels. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. Her debut novel MY KIND OF CRAZY comes out April 5, 2016 from Sourcebooks Fire. You can follow her on her blog, on Twitter, and get updates on her Facebook Author Page. Also, be sure to add MY KIND OF CRAZY to your Goodreads shelf!