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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Crafting one good sentence after another


“Journalism taught me how to write a sentence that would make someone want to read the next one.   I do feel that if you can write one good sentence and then another good sentence and then another, you end up with a good story.” – Amy Hempel

Born on this date in 1951, Hempel is a native of Chicago who spent her formative years in California, the setting for much of her fiction.  A journalist and creative writer, she has written for numerous magazines and newspapers while also writing short stories and teaching.  Currently living in Florida, she is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Florida.

Hempel is one of only a handful of U.S. writers to build a reputation solely on short fiction.  She jump-started her career by producing what has arguably been one of the most anthologized short stories ever written, "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried.”  That 1985 story and nearly every other one of her first 20 years’ efforts are in her award-winning The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, named as one of The New York Times' Ten Best Books of 2007.    It’s truly a primer on how to do short story writing.

“I'm not first and foremost interested in story and the what-happens, but I'm interested in who's telling it and how they're telling it and the effects of whatever happened on the characters and the people,” she said about her writing style. 
“I’ve always known when I start a story what                      
 the last line is.  It’s always been the case . . . I don’t know how it’s going to get there, but I seem to need that destination.”

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