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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

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.
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.