So you are probably wondering where Julie is, and you have reason to, she’s pretty awesome. But don’t worry, she’ll be back soon. In the meantime, Hi, I’m Kiley Roache, a high school sophomore and columnist for “The Doings” a suburban outlet of Sun Times Media.
In my most recent column, I wrote about Veronica Roth and her amazing books Divergent and Insurgent, which Julie had originally told me to read. When I interviewed Ms. Roth, she shared some great writing advice.
Sadly, I didn’t get to include most of it in my article. In my opinion, what she said was infinitely helpful, and Julie was kind enough to let me guest blog, so I get to share it with you.
[Warning: If you haven’t read Divergent by Veronica Roth, the following post may contain some spoilers. Also, what are you doing, go read it now!]
So if you’ve read Divergent and Insurgent, you are probably in love with Tobias. This, I know, is a little scary since he is a fictional character and all. The reason you felt this way is because Ms. Roth has created characters that truly seem like real people, including Tobias. Roth said that with Tobias, “I always have a sense of what he’s doing when he’s not on the page…that helps a lot to make him feel like a real person in my mind.” I think we could all use this advice since it’s so easy to focus on the main character, but when the reader becomes invested in the lives of many of the characters, that’s what makes a great novel.
As for main characters, Roth stressed the importance of having them make mistakes. She said “I think as an author it’s hard to do that because we kind of want to protect characters that we come to love, but it’s so important in making them seem like real people, because real people make mistakes all the time.”
Ms. Roth also gave two key insights into creating the relationship between Tris and Tobias. She said that she loves that Tobias believes in her strength, because, “So often, we see love stories about boys who want to protect girls, and he certainly wants to do that with her, but he also kind of trusts her to take care of herself and their mutual respect for each other really helps with the love story.” She also remarked about the closeness between Tris and Tobias that comes from them exposing themselves to each other like they don’t to anybody else. She said, “If you can develop closeness in the relationships between your characters that people can see on the page and not just hear about from one characters prospective, important.”
Finally, Ms. Roth taught me a very important lesson with the answer to a question about height. I had noticed that while Ms. Roth is six feet tall, her protagonist, Tris, is quite short, so I asked her if making her short was a conscience decision. She replied that it was, and she wanted Tris to be underestimated not only because of where she came from but also physically. She said, “She doesn’t start off very strong, but she grows to be a stronger person both physically and mentally. And I wanted that physical part of that journey to be really clear. So I made her small.”
I thought this was about the coolest answer ever. I realized how remarkable it was that Ms. Roth had written a page-turner while still developing many layers to her work, and Tris’s simultaneous journeys was only one of many examples of this. The complexity that Roth developed shows how possible it is for books to crossover from the required reading list to the best seller list.
Thank you so much for taking time to read this, and if you didn’t like it, don’t worry, Julie will be back very soon. I will leave you with Ms. Roth’s words on writing in general.
“Keep writing as much as you can and do not be so afraid to show your writing to other people, people that you trust.”
Quick note from Julie: Hey y'all! Just wanted to give a shout to Kiley and say a big fat THANK YOU! Isn't she awesome?? And pssst picture shows Veronica and Kiley at the signing! Kiley, can you come blog for me all the time? ;) No, but seriously.