Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

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First Looks, October 2012: Fakes and The Art Forger

Hello again, FWR friends. Welcome to the latest installment of our “First Looks” series, which highlights soon-to-be released books that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. We publish “First Looks” here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments and your recommendations of forthcoming titles. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com, and thanks in advance. First, W.W. Norton is releasing what strikes me as a must-read anthology for fiction writers: Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts. Edited by David Shields and Matthew […]


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Is it okay to say "Boring!" in workshop?

Author and teacher Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich says YES—and in fact, she hopes more people will say it. Writes Marzano-Lesnevich: [W]orkshop students tend to forget that they’re required to be there. I don’t mean in attendance, sitting around a large table, but rather in the page—in the world of the story. They’re required to read. They’re even required to finish the piece. This simple requirement changes everything about their relationship to what’s on the page. I’ve come to think that this gap is at least partially responsible for stories that do well in workshop sometimes floundering out there in the real world. […]


Interviews |

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously: An Interview with Scott Nadelson

In conversation with Julie Judkins, author Scott Nadelson discusses how the “mad mystic hammering” of Bob Dylan inspired him to become a writer, why being a formerly reluctant reader informs his teaching, and how New Jersey has evolved in his fiction from an actual place to a state of being.


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Bookish Gift Idea #12: The Storymatic

Here’s a great gift for a young writer, a game buff, or a teacher. The Storymatic provides 500 cards suggesting characters, images, and events to lead players into a story: First, draw two gold cards. Combine the information on the two cards to create your main character. For example, if you draw “surgeon” and “amateur boxer,” your character is a surgeon who is also a boxer. Next, draw one or two copper cards. Let the information on the cards lead you into a story. Wild cards are interspersed throughout, and they prompt you to go in directions you might not […]


Interviews |

Find Your Metaphor: An Interview with Daniel Orozco

Daniel Orozco’s debut has been a long time coming. Now fans of his prizewinning fiction can enjoy an entire collection, Orientation: And Other Stories. Michael Shilling calls him in Idaho to talk geographic love letters, G. Gordon Liddy, and the peculiar challenge of gimmicks.


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Under the Influence… of Janet Peery

For me, the beauty of Janet (besides her flowing hair and karaoke skills, obviously) is that she forces students to name things, to make the abstract concrete. She won’t tolerate imprecise language, lazy writing, limp sentences.  I think her “Janet-isms” are in keeping with that. A lot of her funny sayings, some of them her own creations and others drawn from a lifetime of reading and study, concisely label common student writing flaws. Another former writing instructor once wrote in the margin of one of my stories, “I’m bored.” Fair enough. But, for me, that criticism was never helpful. After […]


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Why Teach Book Reviewing? or, How Penn State Graduate Students Become Responsible Literary Citizens: a guest post by Robin Becker

Editor’s note: As part of our focus on teaching this month, we’re delighted to present this guest post by Robin Becker. “To stimulate, to argue, to celebrate, to explain, to describe, to amuse, to popularize new ideas, to keep the conversation going—these are part of the job and a large part of the ideal to which any good book reviewer will always aspire.” –John Gross, New York Times Book Review Editor; editor of the special 100-year anniversary issue of the NY Times Book Review I designed the graduate seminar The Writer as Critic: Reviewing Contemporary Poetry, Fiction & Non-Fiction (English […]


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The Eras of Teaching Creative Writing

  In his 1994 book Peddling Prosperity, the economist Paul Krugman offered an analogy that I have never been able to forget. He suggests that modern economics, which he fondly calls a “primitive science,” has reached about the same level of development that medicine reached in 1900. Medical researchers had, by that time [1900], accumulated a great deal of information about the human body and its workings, and were capable of giving some critically usefully advice about how to avoid disease. They could not, however, cure very much. Indeed, the doctor / essayist Lewis Thomas tells us that the most […]


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Get Writing: Scene and Summary, Minimalist and Maximalist

I have a problem telling stories. Sometimes in my excitement it’s difficult to gauge how much detail a friend, or a reader, actually needs to know. Because while not all details are important to understanding the events, to me, often the details are the most interesting part. So, if I’m trying to describe how late the train was, so late that it made me miss my doctor’s appointment, instead I might end up talking more about the argument I eavesdropped on while waiting for that train, and the maroon, bedazzled pumps of the woman who was hissing at her partner. […]




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