Showing 52 Essays

Splat Goes the Hero: Visceral Horror

May 2nd, 2012

Find out about Jack Ketchum's 'Talking Scars' class, which begins May 7th!

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As I Lay Mostly Dying

April 10th, 2012

Everybody loves to badtalk the adverb, and I’ll usually jump right on that bandwagon.

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Why Genre

April 10th, 2012

Photo by bizior Or, really, what is 'genre' in the first place, right? Without resorting to some dictionary of literary terms, what genre fiction is to me is a mode of storytelling which relies on convention to economize itself for mass consumption. What convention does is streamline the story; what 'genre' does is indicate to the potential consumer that this story they've just ferreted up from some random shelf, it's going to be somewhat like the last story they read in that genre.

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Ten Obvious Truths About Fiction

March 23rd, 2012

Image by Magda Ahlers The following essay was previewed in the class that Stephen Graham Jones taught for LitReactor, Your Life Story Is Five Pages Long.

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Stocking Stuffers: 13 Writing Tips From Chuck Palahniuk

November 28th, 2011

*Editor's Note: This column is part of a collection of 36 total essays on the craft of writing by Chuck Palahniuk.  They were submitted starting in 2005, so this essay will refer to thinks in the past and therefore be on an older timeline.

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Going the Distance

October 28th, 2011

Photo by Craig Clevenger Introduction: From Concrete to Quicksand “Can creative writing be taught?” I’ve heard that question more times than I can count, and I doubt you’ve seen it for the last time, either. My personal opinion is yes. Sort of. Writing is partly craftsmanship, the pursuit of mastering those machinations of grammar, sentence structure, plot mechanics, story arc and character development, all of which I believe can be taught.

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Night of the Living Syntax: Disembodied Action

October 21st, 2011

Photo by Craig Clevenger Stories are about people doing shit. Yeah, take a minute to let that soak in. Feel free to quote me, too. Allow me to elaborate: a story has somebody who wants something, goes for it and gets cock-blocked. Our hero, let’s call him “Somebody” (because I’m creative like that), then redoubles his effort with a Plan B. Each new attempt means greater and greater effort on Somebody’s part, with greater risk each time, and greater consequences with each action.

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Cave Men, Sharks, and the Doors of Perception

October 14th, 2011

Photo by Craig Clevenger Introduction: A Grammar Flashback I finished my sixth (maybe seventh) intensive toward the end of last year. Throughout all of them, I’ve encountered a few specific and recurring errors that I’ve addressed in the round of critiques subsequent to each week’s lecture. Given the consistency with which these errors appear and, more importantly, how easy they are to spot, I thought it high time I rope them all together for a single discussion.

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The Devil in the Details

October 7th, 2011

Photo by Craig Clevenger Introduction: The Description Dilemma Write with verbs and nouns. Show, don't tell. We all know the drill. So how do I write descriptions which, by their very definition, demand adjectives and adverbs? How do I show a woman in a red cocktail dress without simply telling the reader that she wore a red cocktail dress?

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Establishing Your Authority

September 17th, 2011

It was after basketball practice, my sophomore year in high school.   We were all in the locker room, opening padlocks, getting towels, when the coach asked me back out to the gym floor.  To practice a few more foul shots.  Or lay-ups.  Something.  So I left my locker open, and went.

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