Matt de la Peña is the author of four young-adult novels and a fifth forthcoming YA novel, THE LIVING, as well the picture book A NATION'S HOPE: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis. He teaches creative writing at NYU and Vermont College.
In speaking about story, Matt says the writing should be about the characters and the story. As the author, don't pass judgement on your characters before the reader has the chance to experience them first.
"I don't believe that every reader has to get everything in your book." For instance, the author might be drawing parallels that some readers realize yet others don't but are still able to read on.
A difference between film and literature is that the reader takes ownership of a book. As she reads, she is the one that makes the characters move through the story, and when she finishes reading, it resonates with her longer. Films act on you, and instead of having to picture what's happening, it's given to you.
While in an MFA, a professor told Matt how much she was enjoying his story, but that he needed to "slow the F_ down".
Matt realized he had been trying to make a highlight in every paragraph, that he was showing off. Now Matt's goal is to create a true collaboration with the reader.
"Sometimes the slow build is the best build."
Before something really big happens in your story, slow down.
Challenge yourself to only use internal dialogue if it's unexpected to what the reader is thinking.