• Elan Cassandra

Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

"If you were my student," as Palahniuk says at least once in each section, I'd tell you to buy this book.

I've been reading Consider This (yes, that's an affiliate link) for the past two days, and it's already been added to my list of recommended reading. The guy's a genius.

No, this is not a how-to book in the general sense. There's no "start here," and it's obviously not been written for beginners. From the subtitle, you can probably tell that it's also part memoir. However, it's full of small brilliant bits of advice that make you want to smack yourself on the forehead and say, "why haven't I been thinking of that?"

This morning, I was feeling inexplicably tired. It was one of those even-though-I-slept-ten-hours-I-can-hardly-keep-my-eyes-open mornings. So I got back into bed and told myself I'd read just a few more pages of this book. I did. And then I jumped out of bed and hurried to my computer to write. That's what this book did to me.

Here are just a few things you'll find inside Consider This:

Little ways to add "texture" to your book or story:

One piece of advice from this section says, "Everyone should use three types of communication. Three parts description. Two parts instruction. One part onomatopoeia." When you read the example, you'll see what he means.

Another tip goes over "big voice" versus "little voice:" "Little voice...depicts the moment-by-moment action. Big voice comments on it. Little voice remains objective, giving us the smells, sounds flavors, textures, and actions in a scene. Big voice muses."

Yet another tip deals with attribution, how to do it well, and some of the effects it can create when you play with how it's done.

Ways to establish authority:

Here's one quote: "If you create a world where one or both parents have died, you're creating characters that have survived your reader's worst fears. Your reader will respect them from the get-go." I see you, Palahniuk.

And another observation for you--this one on details: "In Shirly Jackson's story 'The Lottery,' note how she lingers on the box from which the papers are drawn....All of this attention lavished on a plain wooden box helps us accept the horrible purpose for it. If we believe in the box, we'll believe the ritual murder it facilitates." If you haven't read "The Lottery," I apologize for spoiling it for you.

One further tip from this section: "Stories have greater authority if they're delivered with the same passion and flawed language that an actual person would use telling the emotion-laden truth."

Consider This, also includes sections on Tension, Process, Surefire Strategies for Selling Books to Americans, Troubleshooting Your Fiction, and Reading Lists, along with numerous stories from his life on the road as an author.

I love this book.

In addition to little thought-worms that want to crawl around in your brain and keep you thinking, the book is delightfully written in Palahniuk's voice. Although I suppose that's only a plus if you like Chuck Palahniuk's writing style. I've, at least, found it to be a fun and useful read.

As always, if you decide to purchase the book, you also have the option of using one of my affiliate links so that I get a teeny tiny part of the proceeds at no additional cost to you. Here's one of those links now: Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk. I will not be upset if you don't click the link, I promise.

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