Laura Oliver

Class of 1975
Major/Minor: English

Laura Oliver is the author of The Story Within (Penguin  Books/Random House,) named by “The Writer Magazine” as one of the best books of the year, and additionally selected by “Poets and Writers Magazine” as one of the best writing books published.  In addition, Oliver is an award-winning writer and workshop instructor at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center, and has taught both fiction and essay writing at the University of Maryland. 

Oliver’s fiction and essays are published in national newspapers, magazines and top-tier literary reviews. Among other distinctions, she is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Fiction, an Anne Arundel County Arts Council Literary Arts Award winner, a two-time Glimmer Train Short Fiction finalist, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

Oliver holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College, a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington College, and has completed writing seminars in creative non-fiction at the University of Iowa.

The Story Within

Laura’s book The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers was published by Penguin in November 2011.

“Writing is a duet of giving and receiving, and the writing spirit is a generous one. Plumbers spend time and energy learning to fix your pipes. You respect their skill and are grateful for their choice of livelihood when your pipes leak. But writers? Writers want to give you something enormous and impractical, something bigger than any page can contain. Given the means, writers want to give something that will amuse, entertain, last forever, and fix your pipes. We can’t help it. It’s our nature.”
—excerpt, The Story Within

Additional Info

  • Web Site: The Story Within
  • Purchase on Amazon
  • “Packed with new ideas and deeply engaging, The Story Within inspires, instructs and entertains. Laura Oliver is an immensely talented writer, teacher and storyteller. This book is fun to read and will make you a better writer.”  -Jon Franklin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism and the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
  • “Blunt, witty, relentlessly honest about the hard simplicity of the writing craft, immensely useful, and startlingly thorough. As penetrating and stimulating a book as I have ever seen.”   - Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine.
  • Laura Oliver writes with enormous humanity, humor, and a truly keen eye for human emotion.  I would love to see anything else that Laura Oliver writes. She works a territory that I’m very comfortable with and she brings her own considerable talent to this turf.”Jane Rosenman, Executive Editor, Houghton Mifflin
  • The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers: “Oliver’s book manages to be simultaneously eloquent, no-nonsense, inspirational, funny, and loaded with truly practical ideas: tantalizing essay openings; cool things to put on a writer’s desk; specific ways to make dialogue work better; useful instructions to give people you’ve asked to read your paragraphs.  I envy Oliver’s students, who must thrive under her understanding and enthusiasm. I happened to pick it up during a week when I was in a foul mood about writing in general, and by the time I was halfway through, to my amazement, Oliver had made me want to sit down and get back to work.”   –Cynthia Gorney, Graduate School of Journalism, U.C. Berkeley Contributing Writer, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic Magazine