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Posted by Dennis

Chuck Palahniuk's December Essay, "A Story from Scratch, Act Three"

/workshop/chucks-essays-2008-36Welcome to December. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I personally drank too much the night before, and was so hung-over, I couldn't taste anything the next day.  So alas, all that great taste was robbed from me.. 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 December Essay, A Story from Scratch, Act Three

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 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:

     Jenny flips a quarter-dollar, and Hanks gets to serve, first.

     His racquet whacks the ball, faster than I can see, into a corner where I could never reach, and Hank gets the first point.  The same with his second point.  The same with the whole first game.

Note:  To create tension, we need to suggest that Hank might win.  This will generate more sympathy for the narrator and make the obvious impending plot reversal seem like more of a victory.  For a stronger effect, I need to reread the opening of this story and borrow some of that earlier wording to echo the scene where Hank was clearly superior.  Just a few well-chosen words can keep that earlier scene present in the reader’s mind.

Reminder: 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 January, this new essay will be available to all, free, for one month only.

So you can now read Chuck's October Essay, A Story from Scratch, Act Two 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.