Cath Murphy

The Third Character: A (Very) Rough Guide to Settings

Choosing the right setting for your fiction can be as tricky as giving a turtle a haircut. Here's my Rough Guide to what I think of as the 'third character'.
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Revealing Character

Here are some tips on how to reveal character through showing, not telling.
Kelly Thompson

The Long & Winding Road: Part 1- Writing The Novel

The 1st in a series chronicling my experiences with my novel, including finding an agent and submitting to publishers. Part 1 details writing my novel and my first partial request from "ideal agent"
Richard Thomas

Storyville: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Where do you get your ideas? Turns out, you can get them just about anywhere. But the best stories tap into your personal experiences and emotional truths.
Jon Gingerich

Writing Effective Dialogue

Writing authentic, compelling and engaging dialogue is one of the most vital yet misunderstood challenges of the writing process.
Jon Gingerich

The Changing Character

Does a character have to “change” during the course of a story? Do they have to evolve? Or can they continue behaving the same as always, even at the end of the narrative?
Brandon Tietz

Merits of Other Mediums: Going Beyond Books to Improve Your Craft

Many authors will tell you that reading and writing is the key to improving your work and getting published. In this column we examine the merits of three mediums OTHER than books.
Jon Gingerich

Putting An End To Plot Conveniences

Writers are often faced with the predicament of writing themselves into a plot corner. We know where our stories are supposed to go, but the plot becomes an impasse to resolution instead of a gateway.
Taylor Houston

“I tell the truth, even when I lie.”: A Discussion of Unreliable Narrators

Can your narrator be trusted?? Reliable narrators are the norm, but unreliable narrators are great to read and fun to write.
Chuck Palahniuk

Stocking Stuffers: 13 Writing Tips From Chuck Palahniuk

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.
Jon Gingerich

Write Characters In A Representation-Free Zone

Many writers eschew compelling characters in favor of mannequin tropes that serve as props for preexisting social messages, or characters a reader can “relate to.” Here’s why it’s always bad writing.
Jon Gingerich

Cliche, the Literary Default

Stories start from a default position of cliché: readers go into stories with expectations, and if too many are fulfilled the spell is broken. So, how do writers engage when the odds are against them?
Chuck Palahniuk

Nuts and Bolts -- The Horizontal Versus the Vertical

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.
Chuck Palahniuk

Names Versus Pronouns

How can you replace tired third-person pronouns with proper names without monotonous repetition? In this essay, Chuck challenges you to develop a whole range of names for each character and object in your fiction.
Chuck Palahniuk

Tell a Lie, Bury a Gun

In: Character
Chuck exposes one of the more subtle and influential forms of the Buried Gun... the Lie. Have your character lie or make a false promise early, then the backfire can propel a climactic resolution.
Chuck Palahniuk

A Story from Scratch, Act One

Here, Chuck presents the rough draft of Act One in his short story "Fetch," complete with notes and commentary. See his process in action as he begins to apply all the techniques and strategies of previous essays.
Chuck Palahniuk

A Story from Scratch, Act Three

In Act Three, Chuck demonstrates the importance of keeping established elements present to the story as it moves forward. He also brings in the "Buried Gun" and reveals strategies for building tension and maintaining character arc.