Notes on the Craft

Notes on the Craft
Photo by Craig Clevenger

I’m a big believer that art happens only when one pays attention to the craft. To that end, I try to be as specific as possible when teaching or offering feedback on students’ work. Each of these essays addresses a specific part of the craft of writing; some have previously appeared over at the Cult, others are exclusive to LitReactor. Most of these come from questions and follow-up discussions with students on the Cult, or are a result of input from some of you here at LitReactor. Now back to work.

1: The Devil in the Details

A good description uses lots of details to paint a vivid picture for the reader; a great description uses just a few details placed in opposition to each other to elicit an image from the reader's imagination. This essay originally appeared over at The Cult.

2: Cave Men, Sharks, and the Doors of Perception

Three common errors that are easy to spot and easy to fix, which makes for a radical improvement in your prose.

3: Night of the Living Syntax: Disembodied Action

In: Grammar
On giving your characters volition by making their actions deliberate, plus a handy postscript on the erroneous concept of the "passive verb." This essay originally appeared over at The Cult.

4: Going the Distance

Some personal thoughts on planning a story... and then sticking with it.

5: Talking Heads, Hearing Voices and the Disappearing Narrator

A few practical techniques for writing dialogue.

6: The Safety of Transgression versus the Risk of Honesty

Being deliberately transgressive is the safest move a writer can make.

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