Friday, July 30, 2010

Gordon Korman: The Page-Turner Principle

Gordon Korman - Check out his official website
Korman uses a “lighten up” kind of approach to writing page-turners. Lighten up already!

He notes: kids are pretty sophisticated in ways you don’t expect them to be.

Korman thinks writers, like Seinfeld, are the ultimate did-you-ever-notice guys. If any of us look at our work, he bets there is, somewhere, a kernel of did-you-ever-notice in there.

An example from his own life: If a team gets sponsored, it’s always by someone humiliating. His hockey team was sponsored by “Pretty Polly Paint and Wallpaper.” How about that on your jersey?

Korman loves observation-fed writing.

During school visits he likes to ask kids, “What are the did-you-ever notices in your life.”

Who was weirdest school bus driver you ever had?

What’s the worst food in your cafeteria?

What would a sixth grader's comedy routine be like? This is the question Korman had to ask himself when writing MAXX COMEDY.

School visits are a way to subversively keep an eye on your audience, to see what’s funny to them. The failures during school visits are much more interesting than the ones that succeed.

“Not bad, pretty good” is about the best praise you’ll get from an eighth grader. Korman looks at eighth graders as New Yorkers; they’ve seen it all and done it all. They’re hard to impress. That’s our audience. Tough crowd!

Nicknames are sort of a great thing when you’re writing. When characters use nicknames for each other, it indicates their relationship, good or bad.

The teen audience is incredibly sophisticated when it comes to authentic dialogue. You’ve got to write good dialogue for teens.

For example, how does a character say hello? S/he probably doesn’t say hello. Korman says, Characters almost have a dialogue fingerprint to them. Korman loves the little quirks of dialogue.

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