On rare occasions, writers may leave their creative cave joining with friends and family to partake of festivities and merriment. On said occasions these friends/family are bound to ask casual questions about your writing, novel in progress, and/or your current publishing process.
Their seemingly innocent questions–delivered with a genuine smile–often leave the new author stymied. How does a writer respond to casual questions by a non-writer? They’re your friends and family after all, they like you—might even buy one of your novels–so they expect a genuine answer.
Well, before launching into a prolonged too-much-info reply—and you’ll know when their eyes begin to glaze over—here’s a few all-purpose responses.
1. Most often asked question:
Question: How’s your novel coming along?
Writer: Great thank you! I’m on the [ # of drafts]. How is [ add their hobby here]?
2. You know they’re gonna ask!
Question: What’s your book about?
Craft that one-sentence hook or elevator pitch now! If it falls flat you know it needs work.
Writer: A young Kansas teenager battles a diabolical shoe-stealing witch.
3. Question: Where do you get your ideas?
Non-writers really really want to know. They don’t understand how our brain works. The trick is to give them a glimpse without freaking them out.
Writer: Ideas come to me in a dream. (The standard Mary Shelly of Frankenstein fame response.)
I have no clue. Ideas just pop into my brain at random times.
4. The Inevitable.
Question: I’m thinking of writing a memoir/novel. Do you have any advice?
Writer: ( with big smile) I have lots of advice. Call me when you’re ready to begin and I’ll be happy to answer all your questions over coffee.
As any writer knows, more than one cup of coffee will be required to impart all your wisdom and advice.
5. The Inevitable II
Question: Can I be in your next novel?
Writer: Absolutely, how would you like to die?
True story: In the opening scene of one novel, I very loosely pattern the victim after a friend. When I told him how he dies, he spent the rest of the party telling everyone, “Hey, L.Z. kills me in her book!” “Excellent! ‘Bout time,” was the standard reply.
6: The Movie!
Question: Why don’t you turn your book into a movie?
No need to blast them with a lecture on the fundamentals of script-writing, producing, financing, directing, casting, and other Hollywood fun facts.
Writer: Wouldn’t that be fun? Who would you cast as [ insert name of character ] ?
Of course, should you have family or friends with the same writing affliction…um passion, feel free to talk, moan, bewail, share plot problems, and celebrate successes. Although…you did come to the party to take a break from writing!
So…now that you have a few quick answers to some tricky questions, go out there and mingle like regular people.
Note: Click on the picture to read what we think when asked that writing question.