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Exploring the art of fiction

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What Tells You

September 24, 2019

  By Gabriel Brownstein • For years, I’ve assigned Joan Didion’s essay “Why I Write” to my fiction writing workshops. For me, as a short story writer, there are two crucial sentences in the essay. Didion precedes these sentences with…

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This Story Would Make a Good Essay

September 17, 2019

  By Paul Crenshaw • As an undergraduate I wrote a lot of autobiographical fiction in which narrators from small Southern towns attempted to escape the confines of their region, all the conservative culture and Christianity that wrapped around them…

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Unsayables and Invisibilities

September 10, 2019

  By Nancy Au • In the title essay of The Empathy Exams, a 2014 collection by Leslie Jamison, the author writes about her time as a medical actor playing Stephanie Phillips, a fictional patient who experiences seizures as a…

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Self-Salvation, Structure, and Sex Part I: Intertextuality in Jess Walter’s “Famous Actor”

August 27, 2019

  By Candace Walsh • In Jess Walter’s “Famous Actor” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch,” the authors use intertextuality as a structural element: a rhythmic, outside-of-time interruption of the chronological main story. Simultaneously, each of the female narrators…

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Naming Makes Visible: Building a Craft Vocabulary

August 20, 2019

  By Caitlin Horrocks • I was well into my MFA in creative writing before I encountered anything that might be called a craft essay. The previous writing-on-writing I’d encountered consisted of inspirational texts, collections of writing exercises, or literature…

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Hybrid Interview: Molly Gloss

August 13, 2019

  Essay by Nicole Barney • “Your opening line is a throwaway,” Molly Gloss said during workshop, not unkindly, just matter-of-factly. “An editor wouldn’t read past it.” Granted, my first sentence was no Dickensian gem. It presented no intriguing riddle…

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What We Talk About When We Read Submissions

July 30, 2019

  by David K. Slay • Since the beginning of this year, I have been on a team of first readers for CRAFT, a literary journal with a mission to “explore the art of fiction with a focus on the…

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If You Can Name It, You Can Fix It: A Craft Glossary

July 16, 2019

  By Jody Hobbs Hesler • “It seems like you don’t really care about your main character,” someone once told me in a workshop. Maybe they sensed an underlying issue with the character’s authenticity? A nebulous not-rightness about the prose?…

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Hybrid Interview: Ariel Gore

July 9, 2019

  Essay by Melissa Benton Barker • In this cultural moment when bodies and embodied experiences that resist conforming to the cisgender, heterosexual male norm are increasingly marginalized and criminalized, Ariel Gore’s We Were Witches, feminist novel and anti-shame manifesto,…

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Telling Time: Fiction As Clockmaking

June 18, 2019

  By Alix Ohlin • A few years back, in New York, I sat through four hours of Christian Marclay’s 2010 video art work “The Clock.” This was actually the third time I’d seen it, but I still went in…

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