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Exploring the art of fiction

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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

Crafting Suspense

November 27, 2017

On Crafting Suspense: Keep the Bodies Hidden By Dustin Heron Suspense is an important element of fiction—and not just for stories where things go bump in the night. Suspense is “the feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what might…

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Object Lesson

November 20, 2017

So often in crafting fiction we think about character, plot, and setting. But thinking about specific objects and placing those objects in our fiction can be a great way in to a character and even a plot point. An object…

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Surprise!

November 13, 2017

It’s such a simple idea, really—as good ideas usually are—that surprise is a key element in our work as writers. But somehow, I hadn’t grabbed onto that idea until I took a workshop with Bret Anthony Johnston who believes wholeheartedly…

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Mapping The Setting

November 6, 2017

We are often as familiar with the settings in our fiction as we are with our own homes and towns. We know in which drawer Ariel keeps her revolver; we know how how long it takes to get to the…

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Favorite Opening: “North Of,” Marie-Helene Bertino

November 2, 2017

Favorite Opening: “North Of,” Marie-Helene Bertino There are American flags on school windows, on cars, on porch swings. It is the year I bring Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving. We park in front of my mom’s house—my mom, who has…

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Withholding Information

October 30, 2017

Has this happened to you? You have a good idea for an ending of a short story. You figure out the plot twist that will bring together the various narrative threads. You think of that “aha” moment that will crystallize…

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Same Style, Different Content

October 23, 2017

Borrowing a craft element from another writer can be a great way to kickstart a new project, or re-energize an existing one. There are many ways to do this, of course, but here we want to focus on borrowing the…

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Novel Structure: Two Timelines

October 18, 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, the newest novel by Hannah Tinti, uses two separate timelines as its primary structure. The first timeline follows Samuel Hawley and his daughter Loo after they have moved back to a fishing village north…

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Dialogue at Cross-Purposes

October 16, 2017

Dialogue is the one of tools we have for showing us who the characters are and how they relate to each other. The best dialogue includes some amount of subtext and conflict. One of the good ways to get at…

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Secrets in Fiction

October 9, 2017

The word “secret” comes from the Latin verb secernere; se: to set apart and cernere: to sift. The etymology of the word seems particularly appropriate for fiction: as both readers and writers, we are always sifting through a story in…

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