on writing

08Jul10

There was a creative writing class that many people attended, those full of the compulsion to write as if gripped by the throat by some monstrous hell-thing. All the students showed promise being full of ideas and appreciative of the formulations of plot and character and yet none of them felt they could write well enough, that somehow they were always too obtuse and inarticulate. The teacher decided to forget their histories and counselled them to do the same; you have never written a thing in your life. Many protested at this and left the class, those that stayed did so uncomfortably but intrigued. The teacher, returning to the first instance, asked them the cardinal rule of writing fiction well. None felt comfortable enough to answer. Finally one student broke the silence; show, don’t tell. And the teacher expelled him from the class.

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