Teenager by Bud Smith

I love writing that’s deceptively simple, the sort so easy and effortless that you can’t imagine a lot of work going into it. But here’s a secret: that sort of writing, when it works, is usually the result of hard work and a lot of time, because writers usually work towards a certain style, constantly perfecting their storytelling techniques. What works? What doesn’t? Does this suit me? Can I write this way for this story? Teenager by Bud Smith pulls off the trick being being efficient with words while building up the details of his characters in each paragraph. Who are they? What makes them the way they are? That sort of thing. Simply put, Teenager is a breeze to read because it feels very much like it would have been a breeze to write. But I guarantee a lot of work went into the uncluttered style. Short chapters, lovely illustrations, and some shocking moments along the way make the book something very special. What starts off as a heart-rending romance (with the main character breaking out of a detention center) builds up quickly in rapid bursts of text, with gory violence, and more than a few Elvis references along the way. In some ways, Teenager is an uncomplicated alliance of True Romance with Romeo & Juliet, albeit with murder, violence, and cattle-ranching along the way. Most of the characters are unlikable, but get what they deserve. Sometimes the leads are unlikable too. They also, without giving too much away, get what they deserve – and you feel it, you really do. That’s how the best writing works. World-building doesn’t need to last seven days, it can be four hundred pages long and not feel like it.

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