Chuck teaches two principal methods for building a narrative voice your readers will believe in. Discover the Heart Method and the Head Method and how to employ each to greatest effect.
At the core of Minimalism is focusing any piece of writing to support one or two major themes. Learn harvesting, listing, and other methods, after a fun excursion into the spooky side of Chuck's childhood.
Great writing must reach both the mind and the heart of your reader, but to effectively suspend reality in favor of the fictional world, you must communicate on a physical level, as well. Learn to unpack the details of physical sensation.
First-person narration, for all its immediacy and power, becomes a liability if your reader can't identify with your narrator. Discover Chuck's secret method for making a first-person narrator less obtrusive. Bonus: This essay includes the story 'Guts.'
Sometimes called "plants and payoffs" in the language of screenwriters, Hiding a Gun is an essential skill to the writer's arsenal that university writing courses almost never touch upon. Learn to identify and use multiple forms, including the Big Question, the Physical Process, and the Clock.
You've always heard the maxim, "Show, don't tell..." but almost no writing teacher ever explains... How. Discover how to strengthen your prose by unpacking abstract and static verbs into descriptive action.
An interesting character has strong opinions, and voicing them can lend mood and texture to the work, but you can't allow these "Big Voice" rants to eclipse the "Little Voice" needs for descriptive physical action. In this essay, you'll learn to strike that balance.
This verbal repetition can create a beat of bland time that lets your story breathe, or it can refresh previous plot points and trigger strong emotions. Steal this natural aspect of spoken rhetoric to enliven your prose.
Great writers like Mark Richard and Amy Hempel re-invent the world, partly by re-inventing the language. In this essay, Chuck introduces you to the mysteries of "Burnt Tongue," and its three principal uses.
Abstract and summarizing lead statements feel natural to journalism and academic writing, but will suck the life from your fiction. Learn to unpack and rearrange these abstractions for greater effect.
Lots of things that look smart on the page fall apart in the auditorium. Discover the numerous reasons Chuck writes for the ear as well as the eye, along with how to make the most of live reading opportunities.
All humans are storytellers and every fiction is veiled autobiography. Learn to explore and exhaust your personal issues by creating something bigger than yourself, and don't miss Chuck's ingenious assignment for personalizing your character's perception of time.
Smart actors use the stage business of peeling an apple or lighting a cigarette to create a layer of interest that dialogue alone can never convey. Learn to punctuate your dialogue with gesture and attribution to propel interest and achieve better pacing.
Every story possesses the "horizontal" movement from plot point to plot point and finally to resolution, as well as the "vertical" development of character, theme, and emotional resonance. Discover Chuck's approach to building a story in layers.
When you can't find a writing workshop, you can still find a setting where you're almost forced to daydream. Chuck paints some funny options for this while recommending that you daydream with a pen in your hand.
To achieve excellence, a writer must learn to identify and eliminate clichés. Chuck demonstrates the use of placeholders where more inventive language is needed, while counter-intuitively recommending style mimicry as a positive stage of learning.
What does Fight Club have in common with The Great Gatsby? In this first "talking shapes" essay, Chuck reveals two of the more encompassing plot shapes that you can begin to recognize as you create from the same basic patterns.
Lists, recipes, documentaries--almost everything verbal or textual is storytelling in some form. Chuck makes the case for lifting from various non-fiction forms and quick-cutting between them to enrich the textures of your fiction.
Every time you compare something inside of a scene to something that's not present, you distract your reader. Learn to limit the use of "like" or "as" and to unpack static verbs, along with other methods for forging stronger comparisons.
In this second "talking shapes" essay, Chuck explores a basic paradox of storytelling, while revealing what you can do about it. The Thumbnail opening foreshadows major plot points in advance and creates authority, without giving too much away.
An excellent plot for horror and dark fantasy, the Cycle enlists and seduces the reader even as it enlists and seduces the protagonist. Learn what to look for from a few of Chuck's favorites, while putting this plot shape to work for yourself.
Take a look at your work. Are you writing a classic rebel-follower-witness story? If not, what kind of myth are you creating? This essay takes up the mythic patterns prominent in our culture and provides great examples.
An object, in fiction, can serve multiple purposes--from Memory Cue, to Gesture Prop, to Buried Gun, to simple Through-Line Image. Learn to make the most of physical objects.
Christmas comes early today! In this essay Chuck provides a grab-bag of incredibly useful ideas that don't require too much individual elaboration. From delineating the three types of speech, to simple maxims for the writing life.
Several methods exist in fiction for showing the passage of time--from subtle to not-so-subtle. Here, Chuck glosses various approaches while highlighting his preferred method.