Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Judy’s Writing Process - Part 2

Judy Blume

Lesson time 11:29 min

In later drafts, Judy goes deeper into character to propel a story forward. She also shares her feelings about what to do if writer’s block appears.

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Topics include: Go Deeper Into Character • Make It Your Job • Follow Your Life’s Rhythms • Writer’s Block


In a second draft, not so much trying to solve the problems of the plot or the storytelling. I'm probably trying to go deeper into who are these characters. And by finding out about them, that's going to help me tell their story and move forward. And I'll hope that when I read through a second draft, there will be little bits that delight me along the way. Maybe it's dialogue. Maybe it's a scene that I'll really like. A lot of it won't wind up in the final book, but some of it will be there from the first draft. Some dialogue will always stay. There might be a scene that will always be there, because it just came, and it's good, and it works. And eventually, you get a feel for that. And you get a feel for, especially, if it's not working, the heartbreak of it's not working. But I don't give up. I don't give up. My revision process has to do with the characters and the story. I mean, it's the same thing. The characters were there to tell a story. So I can't separate the characters from the story. Yes, I can say, oh, I know what. Rachel's father swigs Pepto Bismol before school starts, because he's nervous. And that's the kind of person he is. He's a worrier. And he will be that way, maybe, through the book. And that's good that I know that. But still, more and more good things happen as the drafts go up in number. So a third draft will be-- many more things will come. The interesting thing, really, is that I know now that some of my best stuff will come after I'm working with an editor. Maybe in the first time, or maybe not until we have our second go round. Some of the best stuff will come at the very end. Just as I said some of the best is at the beginning, but some of the best will come at the very end. Because by then I know things that I didn't know in the first, second, or even third drafts. Every time I go through it, I am identifying places like, eh, this doesn't work. I'll write comments-- ugh, forget it, no. And I'll ask myself questions on there. What is she doing here? What is this all about? And that will help me in the next draft. So I don't necessarily try to fix it then, because I like to have all of that. Again, that all becomes security to me. I know what I'm going to be doing. The hardest part, again, is facing the blank screen, the blank page. So I never want to be in that position. I always want to have plenty of notes. There are times when I actually make lists to track my characters. And especially in a longer book, I have to track my characters, track their development, track what they've already done and said, on what page they've done and said that, so I know. And sometimes it doesn't come out right, but for the most part, when I'm revising, I'm revising as a whole. But again, there are times in longer books when it will be just this character, ...

About the Instructor

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

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Judy Blume

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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