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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

I Love The Bad Ones Best

April 11, 2018

By Louise Marburg There is perhaps nothing more annoying to hear from an editor that they find a character too unsympathetic to be believable. Part of me wonders if the character in question might in fact be all too believable,…

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What Makes a Collection?

April 3, 2018

You’ve amassed some stories. Maybe you have enough for a collection, maybe you’re still a few shy. It’s not an obvious grouping of stories: there are no common characters or recurring places or a clear theme. How do you organize…

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Obsessions

March 26, 2018

Obsessions lie at the heart of most of the things we do well. And figuring out what your obsessions are in writing may well be the key to figuring out that next short story or novel. Poet Natalie Diaz talks…

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Character Research

February 26, 2018

When it comes to doing research for a novel or story, the resources are endless. We typically turn first to non-fiction sources, writers documenting the history of the time. Often, though, these accounts are written after-the-fact as the historian makes…

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Favorite First Sentence: WAYS TO DISAPPEAR

February 21, 2018

“In a crumbling park in the crumbling back end of Copacabana, a woman stopped under an almond tree with a suitcase and a cigar.” Ways to Disappear, Idra Novey’s debut novel, is about a South American writer who has disappeared,…

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Switching Tenses

February 19, 2018

Most writers, it seems, prefer one tense over another. Many of us use the past tense as our default, as it allows for foreshadowing, and, conversely, it allows reflection from the present “telling” moment.  We’re telling a story of which…

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Map Research

February 12, 2018

I will confess: I like maps. I like understanding where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. And I love Google and/or Apple Maps. The satellite view, the street view, directions, walking distance, the whole thing. I can…

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Collective Voice: WE THE ANIMALS

January 31, 2018

We the Animals, by Justin Torres, is a wonderful example of the use of the collective voice in fiction. There are, of course, many other classic works that use this voice, including the novels The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides…

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Story and Plot: Finding Meaning

January 18, 2018

In studying the craft of fiction, story and plot seem like simple enough concepts: story is the chronological sequence of events while plot is those same events, reordered by the author. In an attempt to consider how to construct meaning…

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Linked Story Collections: SWALLOWED BY THE COLD

January 10, 2018

Linked story collections often seem like that halfway point between a collection of unconnected stories and a novel. Done well, a linked collection can add up to something more than its parts, a reading experience that expands beyond the limits…

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