In the program at Spalding, I’ve been privileged to meet so many great writers. During my residency in May, I was lucky enough to get to know YA Writer Marjetta Geerling. Besides having a killer voice (she sang along with a little acoustic guitar action), Marjetta is amazing fun to hang out with. Her YA novel FANCY WHITE TRASH is available from Viking. Thanks for doing the post, Marjetta! Read about the greatest lesson she learned in the last year, and don’t forget to enter my contest to win a blog makeover!

One of the best writing tips I’ve learned in the past year is from Larry Beinhart’s HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY, even though I don’t writemysteries. He discusses the issue of narrative drive, that mysterious force that compels the reader to keep turning pages. Beinhart advocates considering the objectives of every character in the scene. I always know why my main character is where she is and what she wants, but Beinhart explains that every character is in a scene for their own, specific reason. No one is there simply to serve the objective of the main character. This was a huge Aha! moment for me. It was also a big Uhoh! since I tend to write ensemble casts which means a whole lot of figuring out who wants what on my part. However, in application, I’ve found that when scenes aren’t carrying enough tension, it often has to do with the flatness of the supporting cast. Once I figure out what everyone is trying to get out of the scene,
sparks just naturally start flying.  –Marjetta Geerling, author of