Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping

Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping

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This national bestseller is a significant contribution to discussions of the art of fiction and a necessary challenge to received views about whose stories are told, how they are told and for whom they are intended (Laila Lalami, The New York Times Book Review).

The traditional writing workshop was established with white male writers in mind; what we call craft is informed by their cultural values. In this bold and original examination of elements of writing--including plot, character, conflict, structure, and believability--and aspects of workshop--including the silenced writer and the imagined reader--Matthew Salesses asks questions to invigorate these familiar concepts. He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. How can we rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds? How can we invite diverse storytelling traditions into literary spaces?

Drawing from examples including One Thousand and One Nights, Curious George, Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and the Asian American classic No-No Boy, Salesses asks us to reimagine craft and the workshop. In the pages of exercises included here, teachers will find suggestions for building syllabi, grading, and introducing new methods to the classroom; students will find revision and editing guidance, as well as a new lens for reading their work. Salesses shows that we need to interrogate the lack of diversity at the core of published fiction: how we teach and write it. After all, as he reminds us, When we write fiction, we write the world.

Author: Matthew Salesses
Publisher: Catapult
Published: 01/19/2021
Pages: 256
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.62lbs
Size: 8.20h x 5.50w x 0.70d
ISBN: 9781948226806

Review Citation(s):
Kirkus Reviews 11/01/2020
Shelf Awareness 01/22/2021

About the Author
Matthew Salesses is the author of three novels, Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, The Hundred-Year Flood, and I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying, and a forthcoming essay collection. He has taught at Coe College, the Ashland MFA program, the Tin House and Kundiman summer workshops, and writing centers like Grub Street and Inprint, among others. He has edited fiction for Gulf Coast, Redivider, and The Good Men Project and has written about craft and creative writing workshops for venues like NPR's Code Switch, The Millions, Electric Literature, and Pleiades. He was adopted from Korea and currently lives in Iowa.