“The Reviews are In — And They Are Crafty”

A few weeks ago, I participated in a “boot camp” offered by Writer’s Digest, “Agent One-on-One: How to Craft Query Letters & Other Submission Materials That Get Noticed.” The repeated focus on “story” contrasted that of my previous writing experience, with its emphasis on literary craft. Over and over, the participating agents said, “We want to know that you can tell a story.” Perhaps my previous experience created within me the expectation that everyone just wanted to know that I could write a good sentence. Maybe I created that expectation myself. In any case, this boot camp got me thinking about how the story can sometimes be ignored in the literary/MFA world while other elements take center stage.

 

And all that led to this, my imagining my reviews, written by literary craft obsessed readers. Here goes:

“For quote attribution, no one uses said better than Brown. Brilliant!”

“He could’ve written slowly walked, but instead Brown writes strolled. Boo-yah!”

“Every character only uses age-appropriate vocabulary. You won’t have a six-year-old saying aspirate. Brown nails it.”

“I haven’t seen a writer understand show/tell this well since my kindergarten days.”

“You won’t find Brown using exclamation points unnecessarily. Win!”

 

Yes, I’m sure as literary agents look at my query and synopsis, they are evaluating whether or not I can “write” (whatever that means), but the emphasis seems more on whether I can tell a compelling, structured story. I wonder if workshops might begin with people pitching their story ideas—and having those stories discussed—before going into the world of craft. At my MFA, one of the faculty members said that there are two types of writers: those that write a great sentence and those that tell a great story. I always aimed for that “writing a great sentence” kind of brilliance, but now I wonder: If the story sucks or is non-existent, what’s the point?

 

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Fiction New Fiction Essays/Articles (all) Author Interview Series Why I Write Fiction Craft Advice / Suggestions Developing a Writing Life
Sort by

“Dear Subscribers”

Dear Subscribers: It’s been three years since the last “Gaming with Rosa” video went up on the channel. Thoug
2019-11-18 09:42:37
natemedwards

8

The Daily Comics: an Essay in Frames

 Monday i. When I see my son drawing,
2019-02-06 12:52:33
newberry

8

“A Writer, Not Writing”

Except for a sneeze muffled into the crook of an arm, a sigh here or there, an occasional cough, or the sandy
2018-10-01 17:39:41
edward-dougherty

8

Author Interview Series: Tara Masih

Tara Lynn Masih has won multiple book awards in her role as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing
2018-09-29 01:44:13
taralmasih

8

“RoboPupperTM”

Item Description He walks! He talks! He learns from you! New RoboPupperä is a scientific
2018-08-20 10:15:45
sydneybarnes

8

Why I Write: Suzanne Kamata

Work begins early in my neighborhood, here in Aizumi, a town in Tokushima Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. The
2018-06-20 09:46:44
shikokusue

8

“I’m Not a Failure If I Stop Writing”

“You fail only if you stop writing.” —Ray Bradbury  I’ve always known I was a good writer.
2018-06-11 17:21:12
cvonkampen

8

“On Fearless Writing”

I’ve been writing fiction and essays for twenty years. Since 2010, I have tried to write fearlessly. Though
2018-01-13 19:56:15
macnostic

8

“Writing Through”

The night of my first seizure, I was sixteen years old. I was taken to a hospital, scanned and poked. I trusted
2017-09-21 17:20:03
brunkate

8

“Writing as a Painter”

My father was trained as a painter, and my earliest memories are filled with the smell of turpentine and oil paints,
2017-07-10 09:54:46
lsjohnson

8

Randall Brown

About Randall Brown

Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in the Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction. He blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net and has been published widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA from Vermont College and teaches at the MFA in Creative Program at Rosemont College.