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Exploring the art of fiction

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

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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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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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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The Diarist: Kathryn Scanlan’s AUG 9—FOG

June 11, 2019

  By J.A. Tyler • Other people’s diaries. Strangers. Their words inked across aged paper. Where did it come from? How did it get here? Who owned it, who read it? Hunt on eBay and one could be headed your…

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The Uncanny: Joanna Pearson’s EVERY HUMAN LOVE

May 14, 2019

  By Nick Fuller Googins • Snooping through my father’s desk at age twelve, I discovered a bundle of papers related to our very old house. Within this bundle was a photocopy of a newspaper article from the 1800s, which…

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What’s in a Name? Only Everything

May 7, 2019

  By Aaron Hamburger • One of the most vexing tasks fiction writers face is naming their characters. Over the years, I’ve heard of writers searching for names in baby books, phone books (back when people had phone books), and…

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A Closer Look: MEANDER, SPIRAL, EXPLODE

April 23, 2019

  I hope…that thinking about patterns other than the arc will become natural, that evolving writers won’t feel oppressed by the arc, that they’ll imagine visual aspects of narrative as well as temporal, that they’ll discover ways to design, being…

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