Jon Gingerich

When To Show, When To Tell

Maintaining action is paramount in fiction, but sooner or later we’ll need to deliver expository details for our stories to make sense. So, how do writers engage while providing character depth?
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.
Taylor Houston

Don't Leave Me Hanging...

The ending is the most important part, and as a writer you should want to write a spectacular ending because, hey, you did a heck-of-a-lot of work on the beginning and middle parts.
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

Talking Shapes: The ‘Quilt’ Versus the Big ‘O’

In: Plot
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.
Chuck Palahniuk

Talking Shapes: The ‘Thumbnail’

In: Plot
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.
Chuck Palahniuk

Talking Shapes: The ‘Cycle’

In: Plot
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.
Chuck Palahniuk

Talking Shapes: The Rebel, the Follower, and the Witness

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.
Chuck Palahniuk

Nuts and Bolts: Plot Points

In: Plot
In this return to "nuts & bolts" basics, Chuck emphasizes the importance of determining your plot points in advance. The homework portion entails listening for themes and issues that go perpetually unresolved.
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.