Ever wanted to get inside the head of your favorite author? Well, apparently so has Noah Charney of  The Daily Beast. Charney pens the “How I Write” weekly column in which authors are asked about  their writing tactics and quirks, and in return share some readily useful advice and endearing  anecdotes. To get a glimpse into what makes them a success, check out the excerpts below:


 Gillian FlynnGone Girl

 What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read all the time and keep writing. There are a million talented writers out there who are  unpublished only because they stop writing when it gets hard. Don’t do that— keep writing.

 You wrote for Entertainment Weekly for many years. Do you find writing articles or  fiction easier?

 They each pose their own challenges. But with articles at least you’re employing facts and quotes  and actual people, so have something to work with. Usually. The most chilling time any journalist  has is that moment when you finish interviewing this charming, charismatic person for a profile,  and you had just a grand old time talking to this human being, and you go back to your little Diet Coke–strewn office and transcribe the tape, and when you finish you realize this dazzling creature you’ve just spent all day with is, in actuality, the most boring person ever. And you have absolutely nothing to work with.

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 Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns

 What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

 I have met so many people who say they’ve got a book in them, but they’ve never written a word. To  be a writer—this may seem trite, I realize—you have to actually write. You have to write every day,  and you have to write whether you feel like it or not. Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience  of one—yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. It’s impossible to know what  others want so don’t waste time trying to guess. Just write about the things that get under your skin  and keep you up at night. You also have to read a lot—and pay attention. Read the kinds of things you  want to write, read the kinds of things you would never write. Learn something from every writer you  read.

 What would you like carved onto your tombstone?

“No one he loved ever doubted it.”

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 Jodi PicoultLone Wolf

 Describe your routine when conceiving of a book and its plot, before the writing  begins.

It starts with a “what if” question. I wonder, What would I do in that situation? What if this parameter  or that one changed? Eventually characters start talking to me—I can hear them in my head. I then  do a ton of research—and finally, when I know I have the perfect first line, I let myself start to write.

 Tell us a funny story related to a book tour or book event.

The oddest place I’ve ever been asked to sign a book: I was in a bathroom stall and a lady passed me a  copy under the stall door. Apparently she recognized my red shoes. I asked if maybe I could wash  my hands first …

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