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Notes on the Craft

Concrete, practical methods for improving your writing.
Chuck Palahniuk

36 Writing Essays by Chuck Palahniuk

36 exclusive craft essays on writing you won't find anywhere else online. The knowledge here is equivalent to what you'd get in an MFA program.
Gayle Towell

Edit My Paragraph! Episode Five

In: Rewriting
This column explores the art of editing by providing detailed edits of reader-submitted paragraphs.
Leah Dearborn

How to React When Someone Says They Don’t Read

A 2013 poll showed that 28 percent of adults asked had not read a book in the past year. What are some of the reasons behind a continuing aversion to reading, and what can readers do to help?
Leah Dearborn

Five Real Book Thieves

In: Abstracts
Who doesn’t love a good heist story? Markus Zusak may have popularized the idea in his YA novel, 'The Book Thief,' but literary theft isn’t exclusive to the realm of fiction.
Leah Rhyne

So You Want to Write a Book, Part 1: Ready, Set, GO!

In: Objects
In the second installment of So You Want To Write a Book, we talk about the actual mechanics of getting started. Where will you write? How will you format? What else should you do?
Karina Wilson

Screenwriting: The Emotional Spine

In: Structure
Got your three acts, your hero's journey and your turning points sorted? Good. But, what's holding them all together? Take your screenplay to the next level by addressing the emotional spine.
Nathan Scalia

It's Made of SCIENCE: Cloning

Everything you need to know about cloning, genetic modification, and SCIENCE!
Gayle Towell

Edit My Paragraph! Episode Four

In: Rewriting
This column explores the art of editing by carefully analyzing paragraphs submitted by readers.
Leah Dearborn

An Abundance of Robin Hoods: How Social Bandits Defy Time and Culture

In: Character
Whenever a source of authority grows too powerful and begins to usurp the common people, Robin Hood-like characters start to appear in film and literature.

On Weed: Should Writers Write While High?

In: Research
Does weed help the writing process? Let's find out.
Susan DeFreitas

Six Tips for Troubleshooting the Novel

In: Rewriting
Every novel is a special snowflake, sure, but many go wrong in the same ways. An editor breaks down known issues at the level of plot, structure, and characterization she sees over and over again.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Writing a Novel Without Plotting it Out

Tips on how to write a novel without plotting it out.
Leah Dearborn

Why Are Textbooks So Fucking Expensive?

In: Abstracts
Differing studies have found that the average U.S. student spends between $600 and $1,200 a year on textbooks and supplies. What exactly makes textbooks so expensive?
Leah Rhyne

So You Want to Write A Book: Part 0 — Ready, Set, Don't Go Yet

In: Research
In this, the first in a new series of columns about the mechanics of writing a book, we'll talk about the prep work that should occur before you even sit down at your computer/notebook/typewriter.
Taylor Houston

Punctuation Pairs: How To Combine Punctuation

In: Grammar
As if the rules of punctuation weren’t confusing enough, what do you do when you have more than one punctuation mark to contend with?
Leah Dearborn

The Machine With a Soul: Typewriters In the Past, Present, and Future

In: Abstracts
Perhaps our fondness stems from that image in the collective cultural imagination: a man with his typewriter, clacking away in a lonely hotel room, bottle of cognac at his side.
Leah Dearborn

Better With Age: Giving Elderly Characters the Spotlight

In: Character
Every living person on the planet has experienced childhood, but the same can’t be said for old age. Older characters have more history, so creating such a person takes considerable imagination.
Leah Dearborn

Bodices Don’t Rip: Writing Accurate Historical Fiction

In: Research
Sitting in a classroom or wandering through a sterile museum, we often feel estranged from history. But history is really about people, and that’s what makes it such fertile ground for writers.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Writing About Taboo Subjects

When writing about taboo subjects, be careful how you do it.
Leah Rhyne

How to Survive Your First Live Reading or Book Selling Event

In late June, I survived my first ever live, public reading event....and you can too! Here's how I did it.
Max Booth III

Forget Heroes and Villains, There is Only Point-of-View

In: Character
You want to make your characters realistic? Think of everybody as the protagonist.
Emma McMorran Clark

Play It Again, Sam: Tackling the Rewrite

In: Rewriting
Sometimes the best way to tackle a revision is to just start over.
Taylor Houston

Typos: Funny or Foul?

In: Grammar
Typos are a part of everyday life, but sometimes they can be downright dangerous. Here are three types, from the innocent to the egregious!
Leah Dearborn

The Curious, Poetic Lives of the Rossetti Siblings

In: Research
Born to a literary scholar obsessed with the works of Dante, siblings Christina and Dante Rossetti would respectively become some of the most famous poets of the Victorian era.