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For Jenny Han, the Secret to a Good Story Involves Asking One Simple Question

For Jenny Han, the Secret to a Good Story Involves Asking One Simple Question

For you, what makes a good story?

To me what makes a good story is: Do I lean in and say, “And then what happened?” If someone’s pitching something and you don’t ask, “And then what happened?” then something needs to be reworked. You’ve got to draw people in and make them want more.

When you’re writing, is there music that you like to listen to? Or do you prefer silence? 

I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, unless I need to tap into some emotions. For that, Taylor Swift has always been the musician that can help me tap into that emotional being very quickly. I was definitely listening to a lot of her music when I was writing The Summer I Turned Pretty books.

“This Love (Taylor’s Version)” was included in the Summer I Turned Pretty trailer. That must have been exciting.

As a long-time fan that was definitely a big moment for me. And, I think, for the book fans who have always wanted a Taylor song for any adaptation of the book.

Do you have a favorite Taylor Swift song, or one that you turn to a lot when you need to tap that emotional well?

Oh, man. Well, it’s different for different books. That’s really hard. I’ll probably say “Delicate” might be my favorite. If I was going to do a top three, it would be “Delicate,” “Tim McGraw,” and “False God.”

Could you tell me a more about how “This Love” came to be in the trailer?

Only Taylor can speak for Taylor, but I’ll just say that for me as a fan, I was so excited when they got the song. What she’s doing with the Taylor’s versions is, in some ways, like an adaptation. It’s taking something you created years ago and reimagining it, which is not dissimilar to me adapting The Summer I Turned Pretty, which I wrote in 2013 and am now writing for a series in 2022. How do you approach it? What do you keep? And what do you change?

Was there anything in particular that felt like it needed to change when you looking through a 2022 lens? 

I looked at everything. I looked at how we could make this a more inclusive look at adulthood and coming-of-age, be it with character sexuality or in casting the parts diversely. And even just looking at the story and saying, “Okay, how do I keep what people really love about it and then also look to see where can I freshen it or where can I make it feel more reflective of this moment?”

What’s something you hope to get better at?

I’m learning something new every day. I had never written for TV until I started doing the pilot for The Summer I Turned Pretty. And then I was really in the deep end. The first time in a writer’s room, I was also co-leading the writer’s room. It was my first time doing a lot of things. I’ve mainly learned just by doing and watching. So I’d like to get better at being a good support system to a director and a crew and keeping things moving forward with energy and purpose.

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