Spark (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

Spark is the zap of energy I need to start a book ... and continue it.

Spark is the bright spot I look for when I get lost in the dark twists of a messy draft.

Spark is the perfect first line, or the right scene falling into place.

Spark is the theme that gives meaning to the plot. It lights the fire that keeps burning.

Spark is conflict, desire, competing interests.

Spark overcomes fatigue.

I think spark is what editors look for when they hear pitches for stories, and it’s why pitches don’t have to be long. One sentence can be enough for you to know whether you want to hear more.

It’s what I look for when I’m browsing for books, too, and it doesn’t take me long to know that I want to read something. Two boys take a cross-country bicycle trip, and only one returns (Jennifer Bradbury’s SHIFT). Girl meets boy for one magical day in Paris ... but what comes after that day? (Gayle Forman’s JUST ONE DAY). A boy is haunted by mysterious pictures and clues to the reasons behind his friend’s disappearance (David Levithan’s EVERY YOU, EVERY ME). Each of those summaries strikes a spark in me. These were books I wanted to read--and did.

I tend to find sparks in stories about secrets, losses, disappearances. About getting over a difficult past, about guilt and forgiveness and hope.

Those are the subjects that spark the books I write, too.


  1. Sometimes a little bit of chocolate helps ignite that spark I need to keep writing. Other times, it's a faded scene from a dream, a few seconds of an eavesdropped conversation, a line from a song, or just a feeling I have in my gut. This is just a starter list. Sparks come easy. Maintaining a spark when I write is what I find challenging.

    1. Sparks don't necessarily light a lasting fire, but when they do it's amazing.

  2. Love the fact that you mention the sparks that come mid-draft. Those are sometimes more important than the sparks that start a draft.

    1. That has sometimes made the difference between my abandoning a draft, and finishing it.


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