He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Writing techniques




Anyone can write a bad book. But if you want to write a book the reader loves, you’re going to need some help.


  • Learn techniques used by the greatest writers
  • Improve your writing skills
  • Write and publish your dream book

Writing Techniques You Will Learn

1. Dialogue

How to make your characters sound different, how to make dialogue sound natural, and what your characters should do while talking.

2. Characterization

How to create conflict between them, how to make them opposites, and how to make them complex.

3. Suspense

The course shows you how to create scenes full of tension, conflict, and edge-of-seat suspense.


How to write a gripping scene that will rivet the reader to the page.


Nope. It’s an on-demand course — take it whenever you have time.

Yes, each of the 27 videos includes a writing exercise.

The techniques and exercises are meant for a range of writers — from beginners to seasoned writers with books under their belt.

I offer a money-back guarantee.

You have access for one year.

I focus on fiction techniques, but if you write creative nonfiction or memoir, you will be able to use most of these techniques.



When you finish the course, you will earn a completion certification that shows you’ve mastered the fundamentals of these writing techniques.


If you have any questions about the course content, you can post a question within the course and I’ll answer it for you.


To help with your writing education, you can download resources which you can consult at any time.

Course curriculum

1. Delayed Decoding
1. PDF: Delayed Decoding
1. Quiz: Delayed Decoding
2. Elastic Time
2. PDF: Elastic Time
2. Quiz: Elastic Time
3. Zipper Love
3. Quiz: Zipper Love
4. Ambush Object
4. PDF: Ambush Object
4. Quiz: Ambush Object
5. The Emotional Tree
5. Quiz: The Emotional Tree
6. Walking as Characterization
6. PDF: Walking as Characterization
6. Quiz: Walking as Characterization
7. Wonky Emotions on 9/11
7. PDF: Wonky Emotions on 9/11
7. Quiz: Wonky Emotions on 9/11
8. The Rock Speaks
8. PDF: The Rock Speaks
8. Quiz: The Rock Speaks
9. The Woozy Storyteller
9. PDF: The Woozy Storyteller
9. Quiz: The Woozy Storyteller
10. Squeeze Emotion from a Hat
10. PDF: Squeeze Emotion from a Hat
10. Quiz: Squeeze Emotion from a Hat
11. Twenty Dialogue Variations
11. PDF: Twenty Dialogue Variations
11. Quiz: Twenty Dialogue Variations
12. Two Characters with Speech Impediments
12. PDF: Two Characters with Speech Impediments
12. Quiz: Speech Impediments
13. Argument Between Opposites
13. Quiz: Argument between Opposites
14. The Small and the Large
14. Quiz: The Small and the Large
15. Character Doubling
15. Quiz: Character Doubling
16. Hermit Crab
16. PDF: Hermit Crab Forms and Examples
16. Quiz: Hermit Crab
17. Funnel Description
17. PDF: Funnel Description
17. Quiz: Funnel
18. Genre Layering
18. PDF Genre Layering
18. Quiz: Genre Layering
19. Emotional Whiplash
19. PDF: Emotional Whiplash
19. Quiz: Emotional Whiplash
20. Make the Ugly Beautiful
20. Quiz: Make the Ugly Beautiful
21. Microconflict
21. PDF: Micro-Conflict
21: Quiz: Micro-Conflict
22. Power Imbalances – Clothed:Nude
22. Power Imbalances – Clothed:Nude
23. Manifesto Voice
23. PDF: Manifesto
23. Quiz: Manifesto
24. The Pivotal Sound with Alligators
24. Quiz: The Pivotal Sound
25. Unreliable Narrator
25. Quiz: Unreliable Narrator
26. Gesture
26. PDF: Gesture
26. Quiz: Gesture
27. How to Write a Chase Scene
27. PDF: How to Write a Chase Scene
27. Quiz: How to Write a Chase Scene

Bookfox has appeared in:

Books I’ve Helped Authors Create

By learning the techniques in this course, you can publish a book just like these authors.

Win Awards

After learning from me, many authors go on to win literary prizes and awards.

Learn About Me

Hi, I’m John Matthew Fox, and I help authors write better fiction. Over the last ten years, through courses and editing, I’ve helped hundreds of authors publish their books and even win awards.

My website Bookfox has nearly 1,000 posts to help writers, and my books include “The Linchpin Writer: Crafting Your Novel’s Key Moments” and the short story collection “I Will Shout Your Name.”

I’ve been published by the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and won fiction contests at Third Coast and Shenandoah.

Ask me a question?


John delivers another phenomenal course. Copious amounts of little known exercises combined with clear examples for the win. I cannot wait to try these techniques in my WIPs. One of my favourite courses ever (and I have taken plenty of them). Thanks, John!

Michelle Cornish

John is a friendly and enthusiastic teacher, with interesting and often surprising examples from life or literature. Once I saw how useful these ideas were, I slowed down to write new or revised scenes for each lesson. A great course–thank you, John–I will use these techniques forever!

Rose Kleidon

Writing Techniques helped to refresh my memory from my college days. I have enjoyed the course and it has helped me to remember how much I enjoyed writing while in college as an English major.

A lifetime after college I am now ready to see if I can write a novel.

Shari Cohen

I thought after the ‘splendid sentences’ course that it couldn’t get better but this course is equally brilliant! Not only do the exercises get you taxing your imagination and provide practical techniques to apply to your writing immediately, John pours himself into the course with such energy, enthusiasm and infectious honesty that you can’t help but reflect on yourself, and tap into your psyche for better, fresher and deeper writing. I just love it! Thank you John!

Libby Kemp

“I really enjoyed the course and I know I can use the lessons in my work. It was easy to understand and to follow, and also made story ideas fall into patterns that made lots of sense.”

James Bouck

John has a knack for curating the most impactful information, condensing it, then sharing it in an engaging way. This course definitely improved my writing.

Brent Kendall

This course hands you every tool you can use to enhance your characters in every possible way, from knowing how to give them quirky physical traits, to gestures they use that set them apart, how to make them reveal emotions, how to set scenes for character power imbalances, and a host of other in-depth topics. This is my fifth course with Bookfox, but as always, Mr. John Matthew Fox never disappoints. I’m super glad I did this course, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Jayne Caruso

The beginning of the course points out the major flaws of the novice. I had them all. It was a comfort to accept my position and advance through the course. It is well organized into concise lessons, each centered around a specific writing technique. I would watch a presentation, and then take the quiz at the end. Next, I would go back to my work in progress and find where I could rewrite a portion using the newly acquired knowledge. I feel empowered by taking John’s course.

Douglass Quinn

This course hands you every tool you can use to enhance your characters in every possible way, from knowing how to give them quirky physical traits, to gestures they use that set them apart. This is my fifth course with Bookfox, but as always, Mr. John Matthew Fox never disappoints. I came away with a ton load of new knowledge, new vision, and heightened inspiration. I’m super glad I did this course, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone looking for ideas on how to expand your characters and the scenes they inhabit.

Jayne Caruso

Your Takeaways

  • By the time you finish this course, you’ll sit at your desk armed with skills and knowledge.
  • You’ll feel much more confident about how to write a book using these techniques.
  • You’ll be better at strategies to revise your book and to write your next book.

What if you don’t invest in your writing?

A Failed Book

So many writers throw away their first few books. I’ll help you accelerate your writing career.

Bad Reviews

Bad reviews can sink a book. But by improving your writing skills, you can help give more pleasure to your readers.

Bad Track Record

Readers who don’t enjoy your first book won’t purchase the sequel. Get started on the right foot by nailing the first one.

Learn Writing Techniques Now

Get Access Now

Normal price is $200

One Payment

Buy Now
3 x $50.00

3 Payments of $50

Buy Now

Money Back Guarantee

I’m so confident that you’ll like this course that I’ll refund your money if you don’t love it.

Get an Annual Pass

Want access to all my courses? It’s only $25 a month, paid annually.

Buy Subscription