Unusually, Palahniuk road tests almost everything he writes by reading it out to this group, which meets every week. Vladimir Nabokov famously wrote that showing early drafts was like passing round samples of one's sputum, but for Palahniuk, it's an essential part of the creative process. For his latest novel, this mainly female writers' group helped Palahniuk ensure that his book wouldn't repel women....
This writing group grew out of [writing teacher, Tom] Spanbauer's workshop. The participants still follow his terminology when deciding how to meet and present their work, and perhaps more surprisingly, even continue to follow his rules on how to write. "You can't use abstracts, no adverbs, you can't use latinates, because they're just fancy language that makes you look smart... everything has to be unpacked. Always try not to use any form of 'to be' or 'to have'. It's a lesser form of any active verb. Some people in the workshop are writing incredibly commercial chick lit and we can still say 'this is a moment where you need to go "on the body",' where you describe the physical sensations of the character at that moment or you really describe the visceral as a way of cutting. We like ways of demonstrating things that are more filmic.
Monday, July 14, 2008
In The Independent, Matt Thorne talks to Chuck Palahniuk about his new novel, Sunff, his home town of Portland and his writing group.