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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What will 'engage' your readers?


“One of the disconcerting things about writing for publication is that you're trying to clear your little parcel of land in a field where Taste is king - and, as we all know, there's no accounting for Taste.” – Darin Strauss

Born on this date in 1970, Strauss’s writing has handled the “taste” test just fine, earning a number of major awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship for “exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

A native of Long Island, he studied writing at Tufts University and then headed west, starting out as “Entertainment” reporter for the Aspen Times.  After struggling along at $50 per article, he decided to “head home,” as it were.    “I thought, 'I'll come back to New York.’ I worked for the Aspen Times when I lived in Aspen. I'll work for the New York Times when I live in New York.' It didn't work out that way.” 

Instead, he became a best-selling author.  His first book, Chang & Eng, (2000) won a basketfull of awards, and his second, The Real McCoy, (2002) was listed as one of the 25 best books of the year and earned him the Guggenheim.  His poignant Half A Life won numerous major awards and “must read” citations and the National Book Critics Circle Award.    A frequent guest speaker, he’s also now teaching writing at New York University where he advises his students to avoid excessive scene setting and “get into the story.” 
“The main thing is to think strategically about                         
what will engage your readers,” he said. “Trust me when I tell you that few people are eager to read a story whose opening lines sound like a dissertation on giant bugs.”


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