Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I enrolled in my local junior college as a petrified, fresh-off-of-homeschooling college freshman. My first semester, I met Audrey Wick, who taught Grammar & Rhetoric (ENG 1301 – or 101 for you four-year folks.) I didn’t know it, but I’d lucked into not only a wonderful semester, but a 14 years-and-counting friendship. Over my college career, I took two more classes from Audrey – American Lit II and Pilates – and loved every minute of them. When I found myself in my crisis pregnancy, she was pregnant with her little boy, and she was encouraging and understanding when I began the fall semester at 38 weeks pregnant. She’s really a one-of-a-kind college instructor, and I hope my kids will have the privilege of taking one of her classes in the future!
Besides the encouragement and grace extended to me, she has taught me much about writing prose, specifically the importance of cohesiveness, word choice, and engaging your audience. Her own writing has been published in several regional newspapers and even college literature textbooks. I’ve enjoyed following her writing career over the years. So, I was THRILLED when she told me early this year that her new book, Finding True North, had found a publisher and would be released this spring! I greedily devoured the story about a newly single mom living in a small town in Texas, and the relationships in her life. I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting, which was truly representative of what I know small town life to be like. I also appreciated reading about the protagonist’s struggle with the emotions, developments, and decisions that came about as a result of her divorce and the fears and uncertainties around beginning a new chapter in her life. I think it was a nice dose of perspective for me as a married woman, giving insight into what challenges my divorced friends and family might be facing. And that, in turn, gives me a place to start in my encounters with these members of the Body of Christ.
My daughter Elizabeth (11) has recently discovered a love for writing stories. She has gobbled up a few books written to help young writers, notably Writing Magic and Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine (she wrote Ella Enchanted!) She still had some questions, though, so we thought it would be fun to ask them of Audrey – a published writer with a kiddo the same age as Elizabeth. Without further ado, here are Elizabeth’s questions, Audrey’s answers, and then a few of my own questions for her about how we as parents can encourage our young writers. Enjoy!
Elizabeth: How can I grab the reader’s attention in the opening part of my story?
Audrey: Openings should hook the reader, and one way to do that is to start in the middle of the action. Dialogue can be a powerful way to accomplish this. If the audience can hear your characters and experience the action, they might be hooked!