Chuck Palahniuk relates the tools he learned from his years in Tom Spanbauer’s minimalist writing workshop.
Though fans of Palahniuk’s work will enjoy the autobiographical anecdotes sprinkled among the lessons, this book is for writers.
For aspiring professionals, he proffers a behind-the-scenes look at a working writer’s life. Provided you buck the odds and sell enough books, you can look forward to relentless promotion, incurring out-of-pocket expenses, and generating lots of gratis copy for local media outlets.
But one needn’t write for a living—or even write fiction—to leverage the practical tools Palahniuk offers. For me, the lesson on submerging the “I” to build authority resonated. As does the caution against abstract measures. But the lesson on physical sensation proved the most eye-opening. As a review writer, describing the physical sense of reading a scene may prove the best way to convey the experience.
For writers ready to add some new tools to their toolbox, Palahniuk proves a capable teacher. Consider it a master class to On Writing’s 101-level. Palahniuk relates each lesson to his own work and concludes with prompts for the reader to try themselves. If you were my student, I’d tell you to read it.