Do You Know the First Thing About Writing Fiction? (It’s not craft!)
I’ve been thinking a great deal about how creative writing is taught in the US, about its strengths and weaknesses, and it seems to me that its great strength is that we teach craft very well, so well that there has probably never been a society that turns out so many competent, professional writers. As the Poetry Editor of a national magazine told me at AWP this year, most of the submissions he receives are technically accomplished—and yet very few of them are worth reading. Or as Robert Olen Butler describes his graduate students, they know nine of the ten things that fiction writers need to know very well—but they don’t know the first thing.