Dialogue is one of the most fun parts of a story to write. We can really get in our characters heads while writing dialogue. It’s our opportunity to let our characters speak, to share who they are. We can also use dialogue to develop our characters not only through their words but also through their…

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One of the hardest parts of writing fiction is to figure out how much detail to put into a scene. Too much, and your reader gets bored and starts skimming until they get to the action-y parts. Too little, and your reader can’t adequately picture what’s going on. You gotta be Goldilocks and get it…

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You’ve probably heard the advice to “write what you know,” and if this whole idea confused you, you’re not alone. If you can only write “what you know,” then how does John Green write so convincingly and beautifully about dying from cancer? He’s still alive and well, and I don’t think he’s had cancer. Or,…

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Have you ever had this experience:  you had a great idea for a story, so you spent an afternoon or a week or two, getting it down on paper. Then, you read through it, but it didn’t seem to work so well, so you revised it. Maybe you asked your mom or good friend for…

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I’m not sure why it is that teen writers love the semi-colon, but they do; however, despite their love for it, they often misuse the poor thing. I don’t think this is all their fault. For whatever reason, at least where I teach, students have a semi-colon “learning gap.” They seem to be either terrified of…

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During the summer, I always spend some time working on what I’m going to be teaching during the coming school year. A few weeks ago, I read an article discussing contractions in academic writing, and how in school, the author had been taught not to ever use contractions in writing. Then, in the comments, quite…

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One of the most common grammar errors I see in stories that teens write is switching tenses, or slipping back and forth between past tense and present tense. I’ve read hundreds (if not thousands of teen stories), and though I’ve never tracked it, I’d say that well over half of the fiction pieces teens write…

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Next to your individual word choice, your sentence structure is the basic building block of your voice. Your sentences tell your story, either simply or poetically. They pull your reader in and carry them along. It is possible to write a best-selling novel using basic sentence structure: simple, compound, and with a few more complex…

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