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CRAFT ESSAYS, ELEMENTS, and TALKS

10 Writing Tips for the Holidays

December 13, 2017

Or, How Good Writing is Just Like Good Conversation By Natalie Serber Much to my delight, The New York Times Magazine recently published a feature on “The Art of the Dinner Party.” Along with recipes (try this one for my…

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Mixtapes

December 11, 2017

I have heard more than one writer say that they have created mixtapes while they were working on a story or novel and listening to that music, and that music alone, while they were writing was hugely helpful. If you’re…

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First Person Direct Address

December 4, 2017

Most of the time, our narrators are speaking directly to our readers. We may not do so as directly as Charlotte Bronte (“Reader, I married him.”) but it is implied, no matter the voice that we’re using. Second person can…

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On Ending Polyphonic Novels

November 29, 2017

On Ending Polyphonic Novels by Rachel King I write multivoiced fiction, a technique also known as writing polyphonically, from the musical technique polyphony, where two or more melodies are played at once. However, in writing, unlike in music, different voices…

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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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