Richard Thomas (aka Wickerkat on our forums) is a beloved and longtime member of our site who, in recent years, contributed much as a moderator of our Writers' Workshop. But during that time, Richard didn't just read submissions and provide feedback and help to up and coming writers, he also participated in the workshop himself! Now, after years of lessons from Chuck's 36 craft essays, peer feedback / review, and some of the best writing critiques you'll find on online, he graduated to the big time by having his first novel, Transubstantiate, picked up by a publisher!
This week, that novel was officially released. Read more below!
BOOK RELEASES TODAY
Hey everyone, the big day is here!
Go to http://www.otherworldpublications.com to purchase the signed/limited hardcover, the paperback, or the ebook. Use the code OWPMEM to save $2 off the HC or PB. Thanks in advance for all of your support.
“Transubstantiate is, is — it's a visual: that 2001 baby opening its eyes in the monolith, but the monolith is shrouded in this story of loss and hope and identity, and encoded in the cadence of that story, if you listen close, is the genetic map with which to draw this impossible celestial infant, opening its eyes on the page, looking right into you.”
—Stephen Graham Jones
The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong, All The Beautiful Sinners, The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto, Bleed Into Me: A Book of Stories, Demon Theory, The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti, Ledfeather, The Ones That Got Away read more »
by Craig Clevenger
TALKING HEADS, HEARING VOICES AND THE DISAPPEARING NARRATOR
I have two major pet peeves when it comes to dialogue. First, it bugs me when all the characters sound alike. Sure, with regional diction, accents, socioeconomic class, blah blah blah, it may be tough to distinguish between the Valley Dude speak of two high school kids, but not between those kids and their teachers or parents. Secondly, when characters speak with the same eloquence, or at very least the same style, as the narrator, i.e., the author, it rings false for me. One of the most valuable classes I had as an undergrad was a single semester of writing for the stage, during which we wrote two one-act plays. I still intended to write prose fiction, but writing plays forced me to hang the story on characters and dialogue.
To this day, I write all of my dialogue separately. In The Contortionist’s Handbook, I extracted all of the dialogue from the first finished draft, pasted it into a separate document in script format, what I call a “dialogue map.” No dialogue tags, narration, etc. I read through it out loud, re-worked it until I was satisfied, then dropped it back into the subsequent draft of the novel. With Dermaphoria, I wrote the entire first draft with no dialogue at all. Just narrative, with placeholders for the dialogue. Those placeholders had notes as to the nature of the exchange and the particular outcome, as well as any specific key phrases or lines I wanted to use. With each chapter, I wrote a dialogue map from scratch, worked on the dialogue separately from the novel (multiple drafts, etc., as though each map were a short play), then wove it back into the prose and worked on dialogue tags and breaking up the prose to accommodate it. In my current project, I’m writing all of the dialogue first with each chapter, to make certain that the chapter is driven by the voices and actions of the characters.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, but worth it in my opinion. I’m very self-conscious about my dialogue. Will Christopher Baer thinks I’m crazy. He’s probably right. But the feeling is mutual.
Good dialogue is all about the author being invisible and letting the characters take center stage. It’s the difference between watching people on a screen, versus spying on them through the window, versus being in the room with them. Ideally, you want your reader in the room with your characters; experiencing your story as opposed to witnessing it (or simply hearing about it). Crafting realistic dialogue is a matter of time and practice, of listening to people and having an ear (and a love) for accents. While I have a few pointers on those things, they’re really up to the individual writer to work at. However, I have learned some very practical ways for the author to disappear when it comes to writing dialogue, methods that remove the one-way mirror between the reader and the story. read more »
A Bizarro book of shorts showcasing the lighter side of the genre.
I've always been intrigued by the catalog of Eraserhead Press. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but I remember seeing Carlton Mellick III's Satan Burger and thinking, there could be something betwixt those pallid ass cheeks worth reading about. Then I saw Mellick's grimacing author photo and I hesitated. Gaping buttocks was one thing, but a silly author photo? It just felt like he was trying too hard to be weird. And that seems to be the stigma associated with Bizarro Fiction- that they are purveyors of weirdness for weirdness sake. So, like many a jerk before me, I made my assumption and left it at that. But then a funny thing happened in the intervening years; Bizarro became a bona fide literary movement. read more »
Bret Easton Ellis: 1985-2010Interview by Joshua Chaplinsky
After six novels and one book of short stories, the career of Bret Easton Ellis, author, has come to an end. It is survived by a continued involvement in screenwriting and the film industry.
At least that was the rumor. I wasn't sure how trustworthy my source was, and I certainly hoped it wasn't true, but there were signs. The full circle nature of Imperial Bedrooms, for one, not to mention those pesky little dates at the end. It got me thinking- if this information was legit, I had quite the scoop on my hands. I had to know for sure, but didn't want to wait out the years in hopes of getting an answer. This desire was the motivating factor behind my interview. read more »
Dear Unknown Cult Writer,
We understand that you're something more than a Palahniuk fan, that your literary tastes are wide and varied, and you habituate The Cult for the company of equally articulate souls. Sometime curmudgeon, sometime enthusiast, and sometimes both, you entertain with your forum posts and make friends well. Your generosity isn't obscured by the occasional dark turn of mood or minor topical quibbling. Maybe you’ve endeared yourself to the community here with casual posting, or maybe you’ve only lurked and read things and admired or disputed silently against this multiplicity of voices. But you've hesitated to take that additional step toward our Workshop and the many writing intensives and master classes we've offered in recent years, and this is something that gnaws at you a bit. If it doesn't, then go directly to General Discussion and read or post anything. But if I've piqued your curiosity at all, then I'm talking directly to you. This letter is dedicated explicitly to those who've felt the urge but not the readiness to join our Writing Community. read more »
The website needs an Assistant to help out with Merchandise. Yes, the we have a Store feature. It's not a big section and we don't make nearly enough to survive off, but it helps the site pay for server fees and whatnot, and it's a great way to promote Chuck's work. Problem is, it's a ton of work for just one person and presently, that person is Mirka Hodurova, my longtime partner on the site.
So this person we choose for this Assistant position would be working directly with Mirka out of her apartment in Oakland, CA.
Here is what we are looking for in this position:
- 1 person to be a merchandise assistant.
- This person must live in or around the Oakland, CA area and be able to drive to Mirka's apartment.
- This person will help out with folding shirts, organizing merchandise, doing Post Office runs, ordering supplies, packaging orders, and even filing orders with sites like Stamps.com and USPS.com's 'Click 'N Ship'.
- This person must be very organized and enthusiastic.
- This is a non-paying job (for now). So you'd be doing this for your love of the website (you do love us, right??)
- You are not working for Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck has nothing to do with this position nor does he administer or work on the website himself.
- You'd also be added to our Staff page, so this position would help out if you were looking to enhance your resume in anyway.
- Mirka is notoriously generous too, so expect lots of free shirts, random books and a meal. (and beer if you are over 21!)
If you'd like to apply for this position, please send us a passionate, awesome, clever email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us why you're the right person. We're looking to fulfill this position by early July sometime.
A trilogy overview disguised as a book review.
Shortly before his untimely death in 2004, Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson surprised his unsuspecting editor with a trilogy of manuscripts. Published posthumously, The Millennium Trilogy would go on to sell over twenty-one million copies and become a world-wide literary sensation. Larsson never got to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and it seems that his long-time partner, Eva Gabrielsson, won't get to, either. Due to a Swedish law that required all married couples to make their home address available to the public, the pair forewent nuptials in order to maintain their privacy. Consequently, Gabrielsson has no legal claim to Larsson's now impressive assets. Larsson did have a will at the time of his death, naming The Communist Workers League as beneficiary, but it was dated 1977 and it was never witnessed. Enter Larsson's estranged family, to reap the benefits in what many consider a cash grab of conspiratorial proportions. read more »
Check out this minimalist Fight Club poster by Pedro Vidotto.
You can see more of Pedro's awesome posters at Trendland.net.
A better-than-average list of the world's greatest authors.
"If my choices invite criticism and different conclusions, so much the better," Daniel S. Burt writes in his introduction to The Literary 100. In fact, the first hundred or so pages of this ranking are quite uncontroversial and even predictable: Shakespeare, Ovid, Goethe, Keats, Milton, all the Big Names in Literature are there, just as one would expect them to be. Some may argue that one author should be ranked higher than another, but overall, there is nothing particularly unexpected about this selection.
Burt's goal is to compile "a ranking of the most influential literary artists of all time," and he spends almost 500 pages attempting to do it. To this expanded edition, he has added another 25 people; there is also an Honorable Mentions section tacked on at the end. The entries for each candidate are well-written and do not condescend to the reader; they serve as readable introductions to authors most of us already know about anyway, but they're fun. Such list-books often have a tendency to superficiality, but The Literary 100 avoids being glib. Most entries span at least two or three pages. Burt knows how to make even the more obscure authors on his list interesting, so there is no doubt that readers will be tempted to look up at least one or two of them for further study. read more »
This is one of the best videos put together for a Chuck's reading I've ever seen. I was at this event with guests and I really must say, they captured it well. Props to Jordon Chesney, who shot and edited this. The location was Largo at The Coronet Theater in Los Angeles. The date, May 18th. It was done in association with The Nervous Breakdown. Enjoy!