Suzanne Collins: On Writing

Suzanne Collins: On Writing

One night, I was lying in bed, and I was channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for I don’t even know; and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting in an actual war. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way. That’s the moment when Katniss’s story came to me.
Whatever age you’re writing for, the same rules of plot, character, and theme apply. You just set up a world and try to remain true to it. If it’s filled with cuddly animated animals, chances are no one’s going to die. If it’s filled with giant flesh-and-blood rats with a grudge, there’s going to be violence.
I’ve learned it helps me to work out the key structural points before I begin a story. The inciting incident, acts, breaks, mid-story reversal, crisis, climax, those sorts of things.
I’ll know a lot of what fills the spaces between them as well, but I leave some uncharted room for the characters to develop. And if a door opens along the way, and I’m intrigued by where it leads, I’ll definitely go through it.
The more distractions I have to deal with before I actually begin writing, the harder focusing on the story becomes. Then I work until I’m tapped out, usually sometime in the early afternoon. If I actually write three to five hours, that’s a productive day.
Some days all I do is stare at the wall. That can be productive, too, if you’re working out a character.
Director Gary Ross has created an adaptation that is faithful in both narrative and theme, but he’s also brought a rich and powerful vision of Panem, its brutality and excesses, to the film as well. His world building’s fantastic, whether it be the Seam or the Capitol.
I’m not a very fancy person. I’ve been a writer a long time, and right now ‘The Hunger Games’ is getting a lot of focus. It’ll pass. The focus will be on something else. It’ll shift. It always does. And that seems just fine.
Destroying things is much easier than making them.
[The Hunger Games is] very much based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, which I read when I was eight years old. I was a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology. As punishment for displeasing Crete, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown into the labyrinth and devoured by the Minotaur, which is a monster that’s half man and half bull. Even when I was a little kid, the story took my breath away, because it was so cruel, and Crete was so ruthless.
Suzanne Collins is a television writer and novelist. She is the author of The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games trilogy. Collins was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2010. In March 2012, Amazon announced that Collins was the best-selling Kindle author of all time. She has also written 29 of the 100 most highlighted passages in Kindle ebooks.

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

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4 thoughts on “Suzanne Collins: On Writing

  1. I personally feel that “Battle Royale” did this so much better than THG.
    Maybe its me, but I like to know that in the end, no one wins. Such is life….

    • LadyRaconteur88 says:

      I loved the film. The book is on my to read list. I’m biting at the bit to get my hands on a copy.

      • yeah the book is pretty snazzy. i think the film did a good translation, though, which is rare.
        i didnt HATE hunger games, i just felt like I had already seen it. so to speak.

      • LadyRaconteur88 says:

        True. I wouldn’t be surprised if Suzanne Collins was a fan of Battle Royale. The parallels between the two stories are hard to ignore. It’s just a shame not many people know about Royale. The movie is one of my favorites, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about Koushun Takami’s writing. Seriously, people, check out Battle Royale already! It will blow your mind.

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