Judy Irvin Kuns
Books in Print
A Word from Judy Irvin Kuns
"When asked to describe my writing style, the first thing that comes to mind is a quote by Albert Einstein. When asked, 'How do you work?' he answered, 'I grope.'
"I usually begin with a character in mind and a vague idea of the situation this character has found herself in. The first draft is an exploratory one, at the end of which (if all goes well) I have learned a lot more about the character, her situation, what she does about it and how the experience has changed her. Most importantly, at the end of the first exploratory draft, I have learned what my story isn't about. Subsequent revisions serve to strip away distractions and enhance character motivation until I'm to the point where I can concentrate more on word choice and overall fine tuning. (The fun part.)
"Freewriting is my method of choice for generating material. One of my mentors, Brock Cole, urged me to 'worry less and write more,' which I think is excellent advice. Although I usually save specific word choice until later in the writing process, I try to pay attention to the words my subconscious has chosen for me in the freewriting stage as those words often give me hints and clues as to what I'm trying to say and/or what my story is really about.
"I'm also a fan of Peter Elbow's collage approach to writing. I write scenes and other bits and pieces of dialogue and narrative without worrying about where in my story they will be placed, if at all. Later, connections will appear (on good days) and the story can be put in order. Transitions are often surprisingly minimal using this method.
"I have had the most experience writing (and reading) at the middle grade and young adult level. I'm not so great with poetry and picture books, although I am constantly trying to educate myself in those areas as well.
"My sense of humor is a part of who I am. I don't believe I could write anything without at least a touch of humor sneaking in, as long as it doesn't feel forced or tacked on.
"I believe that every draft has a spark. As a mentor, I would try to identify the sparks and help the writer fan them into flame. Sometimes, in my own writing, I find a spark that might be better off in another pile of kindling. I also keep a sharp eye out for wildfires which can quickly get out of control.
"As for plot development, what helps me the most is to have a trusted reader ask questions about my work, i.e. 'What made this character do that? What kind of family life does that character have that would cause him to react that way?' Those kinds of things help me understand my characters and ultimately my story better.
"Bottom line: Tell the emotional truth and trust the process."
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