So you want to write novels? You’d be hard pressed to find a better guide than novelist Walter Dean Myers, and here he is, with Just Write: Here’s How! to give you some advice.
Interwoven with his own story of growing up poor in Harlem and finding a way out of poverty through the power of writing, and of using his stories to find his own voice, Myers provides plenty of helpful tidbits here about how to approach writing a novel.
In fact, his “six box” outline for fiction (focused on character) and “four box” outline for non-fiction (focused on research) are as good as a design as I have seen, particularly as Myers shares examples from his many powerful books for teenagers, and how he goes about doing both research and daydreaming about story and structure.
The book is written for a young audience, with Myers being realistic about the life of a writer — the amount of rejection one gets, the work of revision, the abrupt shifts in story construction, the ability to take criticism and feedback — and also extols the virtues of telling stories for others.
In fact, as would be clear if you dive into his vast bibliography of fiction, Myers seeks to give voice to teenagers in difficult situations, often facing long odds and even often, facing difficult choices. And he walks the walk — often working with incarcerated youths, helping them find their own voice as writers in hopes that writing forges a path forward for them.
This book is helpful in many ways, making visible the architecture of stories, and always focused on the development of characters that a reader might believe in and root for.
Peace (in stories),