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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.
Leah Dearborn

5 Realty Listings That Could Be Your Character’s New Home

In: Character
Sometimes, a house can read like a main character in itself.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Making Relationships Feel Real in Your Fiction

Some tips on how to make your fictional relationship feel real.
Susan DeFreitas

The Seven Deadly Sins of Dialogue

In: Dialogue
Dialogue is, in many ways, the heart of fiction. That's why it pays to get it right—or, at the very least, not wrong.
Leah Dearborn

Stop Laughing at Yourself: A Loud Legacy of Exclamations

In: Grammar
Exclamation points are like that relative who drinks too much every Thanksgiving. You can handle Uncle Charlie when he’s at the house, but taking him to a black-tie gala might not be the best idea.
Taylor Houston

Seven Grammar Tools to Love

In: Grammar
Grammar gets a bad rap, but some grammar rules are actually there to HELP you. Here are seven tools I have learned to love.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Love Instead of Death—Writing With Heart

In: Theme, Voice
Replace death with love, in your writing, and see what happens.
Gayle Towell

Edit My Paragraph! Episode Eight

In: Rewriting
This column explores the art of editing by providing detailed feedback and edits on reader submitted paragraphs.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Ten Places to Send Your Fiction in 2015

In: Research
Ten ideas for where to send your fiction in 2015.
Leah Dearborn

Hide Your Mistletoe: The Bizarre Tradition of Holiday Romance

In: Cliche
Since it’s the season of generosity, I figured I would give the internet a present: Puritan sex.
Robbie Blair

8 Ways to Make Your Characters More Relatable

In: Character
Relatability in your characters will help your work strike a chord with readers. This article explores ways that you can make your heroes, villains, and other characters more relatable.
Leah Dearborn

Finding the Big in the Very Small with Tanka Poetry

In: Poetry
Tanka poets have a unique way of perfectly freezing a moment in time, of turning a short impression into a story of five lines.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Advance Your Writing Career—NOW!

In: Research
Advance your writing career right now! Hop to it—some tips and tricks.
Gayle Towell

Edit My Paragraph! Episode Seven

In: Rewriting
This column explores the art of revision by giving detailed edits of reader-submitted paragraphs.
Susan DeFreitas

Ursula K. Le Guin, Master of Realism

In: Character
Ursula K. Le Guin is best known for her sci-fi and fantasy, but part of what makes her work so remarkable is the deeply realistic way it handles the nuanced intersections of character and culture.
Susan DeFreitas

The Gift of Gab: Mastering the Maximal

In: Word Play
Hemingway, famously, kept it short and sweet. But if you've got the gift of gab, like Nabokov and Marquez, you can stretch out with sentences that gallop, guffaw, and bulge with overstuffed wit.
Christine J. Schmidt

Lessons From My Grandmother

In: POV
Reading runs in the family.
Gayle Towell

Edit My Paragraph! Episode Six

In: Rewriting
This column explores the art of editing by giving detailed edits to reader-submitted excerpts.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Avoiding Tropes in Horror

What are horror tropes, and how can you avoid them?
Leah Dearborn

NaNoWriMo vs. The Three-Day Novel Contest: Pros and Cons

In: Abstracts
Are you a tortoise or a hare? NaNoWriMo isn't the only writing marathon, and participating in different challenges can help you discover more about your own habits.
Robbie Blair

8 Ways to Outline a Novel

In: Plot
I go into several methods for outlining longer pieces, including free-write summary, skeletal summaries, "snowflake" summaries, visual outlines, and more.
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.