Is talent key for becoming a good writer, or is grit more important? Why should you understand what Hannibal Lecter was missing and what does it have to do with empathy? On creating ordinary characters in extraordinary situations and staying true to yourself while remaining open to feedback. Jason Starr takes us through his creative process by simply talking about what he already knows.
Jason Starr is New York Times bestselling crime author and a comics & graphic novelist who worked on different graphic novels and comics including Batman, The Punisher, Ant Man and Gotham. Jason excels in creating characters that are relatable, even when they have a dark side to them. In my talk with Jason, we find out what’s key to creating antiheroes and how he keeps on creating them.
Every beginning is tough and choosing a writer career path brings many challenges with it. Rejection, doubt and discouragement are all part of it. Learning how to develop a thick skin, while staying empathetic; staying true to yourself, while also acknowledging feedback is how creators thrive in their careers.
Starting a career as a writer means you’ll have to learn how to deal with rejections. That’s the moment where a lot of aspiring writers get discouraged. Writing something takes a lot of emotional investment - not getting the feedback you’d like is tough. As long as your book is in your head, it’s entirely yours.
Once you start releasing it to the world, it becomes less and less yours. You’ll get rejections from agents, clients, fans... And you’ll start building your little pile of rejections. Every writer starting out goes through it, and most likely, you will too. So, as soon as you start building and accepting your little pile of rejections, the easier it gets.
As a writer, you have to get into the mindset of producing work everyday. Routine is what will keep you going. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. You can write on your commute. You can just keep outlining your book. Or keep revising it. You can even just keep looking at it. But, you have to keep the routine. Routine will get you through the tough days.
To create, real, relatable characters, you have to understand them. Once you know the story you want to write, you have to figure out what it is your character wants. Understanding your character helps you tell the story.
You’ll know what they want, what they need and what’s the next thing they’ll do. Having empathy is key to understanding the way your character works. It will help you get into their heads and figure out their next move.
Once you start showing your work, you’ll get feedback from multiple people. They’ll tell you that they don’t like one of your characters, or that they don’t like the ending. Acknowledging feedback is important, but so is staying true to yourself.
Take the feedback, but figure out what’s wrong with the character (or the ending) by yourself. You have to figure it out yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you get discouraging feedback. Acknowledge it, but stay true to yourself and your story.
Be a part of a community of creators — authors, podcasters, speakers, entrepreneurs and course builders.
The Monday Spark Newsletter (weekly)
Long-form articles on how to learn better (once or twice per month)
Offers on upcoming courses & books (a few times per year)