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Exploring the art of fiction

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

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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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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Myth Made New: Madeline Miller’s CIRCE

April 16, 2019

  By Tim Weed • Like her debut, The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s Circe offers readers a fresh and defamiliarized retelling of classical Greek mythology. It’s a retelling informed by the author’s thorough knowledge of the subject and energized…

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Joke-Telling in Lorrie Moore’s “You’re Ugly, Too”

March 19, 2019

  By Kate Kaplan • People tell jokes to attract attention or deflect it, to express a point of view, to connect, to offend, or in the hope of shared laughter. Some people (disclosure: me) tell jokes to themselves, rehearsing…

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