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Month: June 2014

What did I learn at Clarion West? [3] : Unlearning English Lit

Part of the Clarion West 2014 Write-a-thon series. Sponsor me, sponsor another writer, or learn more about the Write-a-thon There’s this thing they used to make you do in school — maybe they still make you do it, I don’t know — which involves reading a story, and then writing about what it means. We call this activity English Lit,. This will shock absolutely nobody, I know, but I happen to be naturally good at this thing. It comes so easily to me that, as a kid, I was vaguely astonished that they bothered to give me a grade for…

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What did I learn at Clarion West? [2] : The difference between plot and story

Part of the Clarion West 2014 Write-a-thon series. Sponsor me, sponsor another writer, or learn more about the Write-a-thon One of the most important things that I learned at Clarion West was the difference between story and plot. It’s not really intuitive to separate them, because they’re so closely linked in a successful finished work. I’m sure there are many writers who never bother to consciously make the distinction. You might think it would be the sort of distinction that an English Lit degree would have taught me to make, but no. Even from a critique standpoint, the plot and…

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Against Against YA

From Slate, by Ruth Graham: As The Fault in Our Stars barrels into theaters this weekend virtually guaranteed to become a blockbuster, it can be hard to remember that once upon a time, an adult might have felt embarrassed to be caught reading the novel that inspired it. Not because it is bad—it isn’t—but because it was written for teenagers. Oh, good! A controversy I can dig my brain into that is completely irrelevant, non violent, actually sort of fluffy and entertaining — but also relevant to my interests: whether it’s “okay” for adults to read YA novels. (Adult friends:…

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What did I learn at Clarion West? [1]

We were having lunch at Elliott’s Oyster House for Father’s Day and talking about the upcoming Write-a-thon. Mom asked me, “so — did you get anything out of Clarion West?” I goggled at her for a moment, then said, “of course!” The conversation moved on, but I determined that one of the things I needed to do during this Write-a-thon was a “what I learned at Clarion West” series. This was a slight conflict with the other thing I needed to do during this Write-a-thon, which was a daily writing, less dorking around on the Internet, pledge. Because, probably the…

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