Lee Child's Best 3 Writing Tips
The best writing tips from Lee Child
British novelist Lee Child has created a billion-dollar brand with Jack Reacher. Jack Reacher is the wonderfully epic hero of Child’s best-selling action-thriller series.
In his thoughts on writing, I’ve have found Lee Child to be quite unconventional. That is exactly what drew me in. Child throws the entire rule book out the window.
He isn’t afraid to challenge popular “writing rules.”
Let me tell you how Lee Child keeps his readers reading until the very end.
1. The only qualification you need to be a writer is to also be a reader
“You’ve got to have read thousands of books and then you internalize that rhythm. You internalize the grammar of cliff hangers and pace and so on. I just start at the beginning, make it up and somehow get to the end.”
The truth is reading can and will help you sharpen your skills in storytelling and communication. It may even help you become more persuasive in your writing. It all depends on what you are writing for, but I guarantee reading will help no matter what. Lee Child believes so too!
One of the most well known cures for writer's block is to read someone else's writing. It will help you when you find yourself hit roadblocks in your writing. The fact is you will run out of words if you are not regularly reading other writing!
It is important to note that it benefits you more to be an active reader. Bill Gates even told Time once that, "And the more I dislike a book, the more time I take to write margin notes." Even if you don't understand or like a book, you can learn from writing! Whether you like something doesn't decide whether or not it can help you, especially in writing!
2. Set daily word counts
“I try to do about 1,500 in a day. That is comfortable for me. It’s a lot less than some people do. If I’m pushing it, which I usually am, 2,000, because by the time you get close to the deadline you’ve frittered a lot of time away and done other things, so I’m usually in a bit of a rush.”
There’s a reason Child has a 24-book best-selling series. He writes every day. Not only does he write every day, but he has a set goal for every day. Consistency is key.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book for getting your writing done. Hit this goal at all costs. If you keep your daily word count small, you won’t have any excuse to avoid it.
Most of Child’s books are between 90,000 and 100,000 words (360–400 pages). He has a 25th book in the Jack Reacher series, The Sentinel, coming out on October 27th, 2020. Without a set daily word count, there is no way he could continue to write these long and successful novels.
Make sure you show up at your computer every day to reach whatever goal you set.
3. Don't ever fall in love with your characters
“At that point writers start to get defensive and feel a bit inhibited about putting in the bad stuff and negative characteristics. When I started writing, I always made sure I kept Reacher slightly at arm’s length. Ideally, I want me to like him a little less than you’re going to like him and that keeps him fresh. It keeps him honest, warts and all. It turns him into a real person, rather than a cartoon character.”
Lee Child doesn’t believe in getting too close to his creations.
Obviously, you want your character to be likable. As a writer, it is completely natural to want that. There isn’t much appetite among readers for anti-heroes.
If your protagonist lacks any character flaws, you like him/her too much. A perfect character that has no weaknesses or flaws sounds very boring. You will end up bored with the story before you even start writing it.
Lee Child suggests keeping your characters real. I agree because it will keep your readers reading.