Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Location: United States

Monday, December 18, 2006


Remember that disgusting little joke when you were in, say, sixth grade?

“Hey, Jude. Got any gum?”

“I have some ABC gum.”

“ABC gum? What’s that?”

Jude pokes finger in mouth and pulls out wad... “ABC. Already Been Chewed. Ha! Ha!”


Have you ever read a book and thought, Gee. Seems like I’ve seen all this before...

Sure you have. Like the old ABC gum, your book has become stale, lacks flavor, and is covered with someone else’s spit.

So where do fresh, new, flavorful ideas come from? Hasn’t every plot imaginable already been explored and exploited gazillions of times?

In a word...yes. As far as plots are concerned, there is nothing new under the sun. Read Shakespeare, and you have them all.

So how are we, as aspiring authors, supposed to impress agents and editors with something unique, something that blows them away, something so fresh that they think, I have to sign this writer?


Plots are finite, characters infinite. Characters aren’t invented, they’re born. We have to nourish them, put up with their tantrums, give them the love and attention (and yes, sometimes discipline) they deserve. Then, something like magic happens. They take on a personality of their own, and sometimes lead the story to avenues unexpected. Give your characters at least three dimensions, and eventually they’ll start giving back.


Agents and editors will always tell you they’re looking for a ‘strong’ voice. A ‘fresh, new’ voice. What the hell does that mean? Nobody knows for sure, but when you find your literary voice, you’ll know it. You might have to write a million words, and imitate innumerable successful authors you admire. Then, one day, something will click and the words will start flowing and...you’ll know. You’ll just know. It’s you. At long last, it’s you. You’re writing like nobody else in the world can write. That’s your voice, and it’s essential.


“But, Jude...didn’t you rather dismiss plots earlier?”

Not really. I said plots are finite, and I believe that. Still, it’s extremely important to have a strong one. I like suspenseful mysteries and thrillers, because it’s 100% guaranteed that something is going to happen. You know, before you ever crack the spine of a Peter Abrahams novel, that you’re in for a roller coaster ride. You know, before reading the first page of a Stephen King book, that you’ll soon enter a nightmarish funhouse full of surprises. And, even though you know that the main character will somehow prevail, you want to see how. You want to ride along with them and feel every pothole.

So, there you have it. Character, voice, plot. Simple.

Now go and write that book.

And, the next time someone asks you for some gum...

Make sure to offer up a nice fresh stick of Juicy Fruit.

Nobody wants ABC.