The DUFF Author Kody Keplinger on the Film Adaptation, Writer's Block, and Self Esteem

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Answer by Kody Keplinger, Author, DUFF

It's very surreal! Before the book even came out, I had posted on my blog that Mae Whitman would make the perfect Bianca. I'd seen her on Parenthood and she just had the right attitude. She was exactly how I'd imagined the character.

Then last year, I got a phone call that she'd be playing Bianca in the film. I couldn't believe it at first. I was shocked - and of course incredibly excited. How often does that even happen? To have your dream actress cast in the role you'd always wanted her to have? And after seeing the movie, I was so right. Mae is fantastic. Everything I wanted her to be.

It's just hard to believe it's real! It all came together so fast. The last year has been a whirlwind. And now the movie is coming out an I'm still trying to adjust to the fact that it's real!

In my experience, there are two important things you have to do to become a better writer.

The first, and probably most obvious, is to write. Write fiction, write poetry, write diary entries, write letters - write everything. Because the more you write, the better you'll become. It also helps you get into the habit of putting words on paper, which can sometimes be tricky if you aren't in the habit of writing regularly.

The second, and maybe even more important thing you need to do, is to read. I've learned more about what kind of writer I want to be through reading than through anything else. Reading helps you see what skills you want to improve on, but it also helps you see the mistakes you don't want to make in your own work. When you read from the point of view of a writer, you start to figure out what sorts of writing you want to do. I've learned so much about my own goals through reading other people's work.

I hate writer's block so much. And I get it pretty often. But whenever I am struggling, there are always two things I try immediately.

First, I make a playlist. I use music a lot in my writing. Every book I've written has a playlist of songs that remind me of my characters or the story. When I'm getting stuck, I start building that playlist, and sometimes that just helps me get back into the emotional narrative of the story. If I already have a playlist when I hit writer's block, I go in and listen to the songs I think will help me find the thread of the story again.

If that doesn't work, I skip ahead. Most of the time, when I"m struggling with a scene, there's another scene that I am excited to work on. So I'll just jump ahead to that scene and write it instead, knowing I'll probably feel more inspired to come back later to the part that had me stuck.

I struggled with self-esteem and body image for a long time. Sometimes I still do. I think everyone does. Which is the first thing I think is important to remember - that when you are feeling down on yourself, chances are, many of those around you are feeling the same way.

For me, personally, I've found confidence through fashion. For a long time I felt like I could only wear sort of plain, frumpy clothes because I was a curvier girl. But within the past year or so, I started seeking out clothes that I like and that fit my body. Not just my size but my shape, too. And I've done a complete 180 on my body image because of it. Now, when I get dressed every day, I feel good! I feel excited to put on an outfit I love, knowing it fits my shape in a way I like. That's how I found my confidence. And it's why I started doing body positive fashion posts on my Instagram, in hopes of encouraging other people who might be feeling negatively about their appearance.

Kody Keplinger is the bestselling author of the YA novel THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) which she wrote during her senior year of high school when she was 17 years-old. The film adaptation of The Duff, starring Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell and Allison Janney, was released by CBS Films on February 20. Now at 23 years-old, Kody has published two more young adult novels, SHUT OUT and A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE both published by Poppy and a middle grade novel, THE SWIFT BOYS & ME published by Scholastic. Most recently, Kody announced two new books with Scholastic - LYING OUT LOUD, set in the world of THE DUFF and another YA novel entitled RUN.

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