Posts contained in the “Writing Issues” category:

Tips for Writing Good Dialogue

Writing good dialogue is not art. It’s craft, which means that you can get better at it. Here are some tips. Listen to how people talk in real life. Hang out in a coffee shop or a bar and listen to how people talk. (As a writer, you get to call this research.) Often, we think …read more…

Harper Lee’s Sense of Place

With all the excitement about the release of Go Set a Watchman I started thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird and what a magical experience it is. I first read the book when I was 11 or 12 years old; it’s one of those books I tend to pick up and reread every now and …read more…

The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher

In the not too distant future, Earth has been taken over by aliens (later identified as “Masters”) who travel about in large metal tripods. To control the populace, all humans are “capped” on their fourteenth birthday: their head is shaved and a metallic cap is applied to their head. The cap suppresses curiosity and creativity, …read more…

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Throughout middle and high school my friends and I paid a lot of attention to what the others were reading. We didn’t spend much time talking about books, but we noticed what the others were reading and asked for recommendations, something that we, as boys, never asked a teacher. This was before the internet and …read more…

November is National Novel Writing Month

Every November is National Novel Writing Month, an opportunity to write a 50,000 word novel. Sponsored by the Office of Letters and Light, a California-based nonprofit organization which hosts some of the largest literary events in the world, it started in 1999 with 140 participants, and last year had over a quarter million participants in …read more…

The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie

All that Larkin Pace wants is a new camcorder, so he can become the next great filmmaker. But he’s too young for a real job, his parents won’t give him money, his older sister exists just to make him miserable, and his arch-enemy Dalton Cooke is trying to steal his girlfriend, who might just not …read more…

King of the Mild Frontier by Chris Crutcher

Fans of Chris Crutcher (which in my experience includes just about anyone who has read any of his books) will welcome this insight into his life and writing. Although he often writes about sports, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that Crutcher was not athletically gifted as a child. This was his freshman …read more…

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

It is the darkest of the Dark Ages, and fourteen-year-old William is sent into the forest to gather firewood for Crowfield Abbey, the impoverished monastery where he has lived since becoming an orphan. While there, he hears a plaintive cry for help and investigating, discovers a strange creature caught in a trap. The first thing …read more…

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Sometime in the future, on the Gulf Coast of whatever is left of the United States, Nailer works light crew breaking ships. His small stature helps him clamber deep into the bowls of the ship, going after wiring and other small bits of metal. It’s dangerous work, and a hardscrabble life where a single slip-up …read more…

He Said, She Said: The Fine Art of Dialogue Attribution

I have just spent the last year being in and out of classrooms, and I noticed that many of the English classrooms (especially in middle school) displayed posters that provided synonyms for the word “said.” In one room I saw poster that extended horizontally over half the length of the wall, listing over 300 “synonyms” …read more…