Wednesday, April 13, 2011

View From Here article, and thoughts on short stories and CW teaching.

I said in the comments on a post below that I would like to write sometime about the subject of unity and fragmentation in fiction. It's a big subject, and immersion in my wip hasn't yet allowed me to tackle it with the depth it requires, but my monthly deadline on The View From Here has pushed me into putting up some signposts.

In other matters, there's a good post by Daniel Green on The Reading Experience about the vogue for 'quirkiness' in short stories, a quirkiness that he (rightly, I think) says often covers a lack of substance while being lauded as doing quite the opposite. He sees it as stemming from the culture of creative writing teaching programmes, and it does seem to be cw-teaching backlash time: Jessica Crispin gets the boot in on The Smart Set: 'Style is king, and not content', she notes, chiming with Green's perceptions, and accuses cw teachers of, among other things, 'excising all [the students'] adjectives, replacing their libraries of novels with guides'. Interestingly, in an article in the current Mslexia, manuscript editor and former literary agent Rose Gaete picks up on a mantra of cw teaching that can constrain rather than liberate writers:
I often sense that new writers, in an effort to adhere to the maxim 'show, don't tell', can shy away from exploring their characters' motivations. Paradoxically, this can result in less richness and complexity, not more.
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