Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

Writing Dialogue:
Tips from the Trenches.

Nothing kills a story faster than bad dialogue. So said Elmore Leonard, one of the masters of written dialogue and one of my biggest influences as a writer. These tips were mostly inspired by his genius, not my own. But they are guidelines that serve me well. DIALOGUE TIP #1 Dialogue should always do something […]

Ten Best Books for Teens: 2014

Picking the ten best books for teens in 2014, or any year, is never an easy proposition. For one thing, it’s subjective. There are books that my bookish friends raved about this year, which failed to capture my imagination. There are titles—perhaps real winners—that simply never made it through my mail slot. But out of […]

Writing Villainously for Fun and Profit

Of all the characters I create, I enjoy writing my villains the most. I practically cackle with glee whenever I start dreaming up all of the awful things they will do to my other characters. Maybe that’s because in my real life I am so well-behaved that it feels ridiculously fun to be bad…even if […]

Writing the First Sentence

A student once gave me an ancient how-to manual for writing engaging fiction. Tip #1 was this: Have a strong first sentence! Here’s the example: “Damn,” said the duchess as she stumbled on the stairs and her cigar flew into the nearest planter. Quaint, right? Even back then the author might have had his tongue […]

Writing. Without the Clutter.

Recently, I’ve become a fan of the writer Lydia Davis. OK, “fan” may not be a strong enough word. Disciple? Groupie? I haven’t stood at intersections waiting for red lights so I can thrust copies of her books through the open car windows of startled motorists, but don’t think I haven’t considered it. Though Ms. Davis […]

Writing Dialogue: Less is More

When I began writing fiction, my learning curve was steep. And the steepest part of that curve? Dialogue. Every time I had a character speak, I felt like I was wearing someone else's shoes. Now, dialogue is one of my favorite elements of any story I write, but it took time and few lessons learned […]

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