Just Write by Walter Dean Myers

Just Write by Walter Dean Myers

Author:Walter Dean Myers
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins


Get It Together

In Box 4 you are ready for your character to truly grow and change.

Change might come about through some outside event that forces the character to make a decision. Or maybe something happens that forces him to face his own ideas head-on and reexamine his behavior. Usually there is some sort of crisis that makes this change necessary.

You’ll have to go deep into your main character’s feelings. Maybe something happens that is an emotional experience. Does he gain trust in another character for the first time? Does something happen to him that gives him a new perspective he didn’t have before? Does something happen that lets him understand another character’s feelings in a way he wasn’t able to earlier?

Another way to think of Box 4 is that this is where the character gets a second chance. I am very big on second chances. I had one.

When I was writing Lockdown, I thought of it as a book about redemption. The main character is a kid who has landed in juvenile detention for stealing prescription pads—arguably a relatively small crime. Once he’s in juvie, though, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. His sense of morality is challenged and he becomes very confused, partially because in his environment morality is twisted.

I wrote the book based on my interviews with the many young men I’ve visited in juvenile detention centers. Very often I will see these young people and wonder, “What got you here? How did you get to this bad place?”

When kids get into trouble, it’s not the last thing they did that gets them there. It’s an attitude that they come up with that leads them slowly down this path. In order to escape, at some point, they have to change. It’s not so much a matter of whether or not they are released, because if they are released but don’t change their attitude, they may end up back in the system. It’s only when they realize that they have to take responsibility, and admit where they went wrong, that they can start moving in a new direction.

This is how it can work with drug use. In Dope Sick, I wanted to explore a character, Lil J, who was also on a slippery slope. As it is for all the drug users I have known, the future is a dismal prospect that Lil J can only hope to avoid. For drug users, any hit might be bad, any transaction might lead to violence, any needle is potentially the carrier of a slow and painful death. And yet they go on using.

I’ve known guys who claimed that they just had “chippies,” or light use of drugs. Others were heavier into hard drugs and didn’t pretend otherwise. What I didn’t understand was how the confirmed addicts kept going back to drugs once they had kicked. And they all kicked occasionally, by either being arrested, being hospitalized, or being lucky enough to get into a rehab center.

In writing Dope


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