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Posted by Dennis

Chuck Palahniuk's November Essay, "A Story from Scratch, Act Two"

/workshop/chucks-essays-2008-35Howdy, folks. Welcome to November. I hope you all had a fun Halloween. I know I did. Today, we continue with, what is easily, one of the best features from Chuck we have ever included on this site. Here's a recap, straight from the horse's mouth:

For the next three essays I'll be presenting three drafts of a short story I'm writing for a Dark Delicacies anthology. Folks have been asking for this kind of in-progress demonstration. Each draft will describe my process and choices -- and the finished, polished version will be out in the actual book.

Read Chuck's October Essay, A Story from Scratch, Act Two

I can only tell you how insanely unique and rare it is to have a bestselling author breaking down his work like this for his fans. Chuck's not doing this to showcase any sort of style. This is all about teaching all of you, who might be interested, how to improve your writing craft. This are tools from his own arsenal that he applies on every book he writes. Furthermore, he's detailing his methods within a horror short story that isn't even published yet! So to give you all a little taste of what these essays are like, here's a sample from this month's:

Sitting behind the steering wheel, Hank twists one shoulder backward, hooking his arm over the seat back and pinching the tab of the door lock between two fingers. Pulling up the tab, he reaches down and yanks the handle to throw open the door, saying, “Get in the car.” He says, “Get in the fucking car, now.”

Note: Damn I hate repeating “backward” and “back” so close together, but that’s fixable in the next draft. All of this action serves to reintroduce Hank to the reader and place him in the drivers seat. That way we avoid passive statements like “Hank was driving” or “Hank’s at the steering wheel.” Don’t show the reader anything unless that thing is moving or acting in relation to other things. Yeah, like in a movie. Remember: People hate slide shows, but they love movies.

Reminder: Chuck has committed to 1 year of these essays, but 2008 is almost up, so only one more essay remains! Also remember that, for the first month they are posted, these essays are only available to Premium Members.  Basic Members can view them one month later. So come December, this new essay will be available to all, free, for one month only.

So you can now read Chuck's September Essay, A Story from Scratch, Act One free here!

If you're not yet a Premium Member and would like to view this essay now, as well as all 24 of Chuck's 2004-2005 essays and all 14 of his fan Q&As, you can upgrade your membership here.

For a tour of our Workshop, the essays, and Premium Membership, click here.