Donut boy college essay
During the final third of the semester I simply tell my students to take what they've learned, and write a story. Any story they like. Which can be anywhere from one to 25 pages long though I encourage them to lean more toward single-digit page counts — I stress economy and precision throughout the semester. The stories they come up with are often surprisingly good.
Last week we spent half an hour or more looking in minute detail at two versions of a paragraph from Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. She seems to achieve the compression and electric intensity of her final version through minimising the connective engineering of the syntax in her sentences, taking out explanations, excising the mediating voice from around the things seen. The students went home to work on a paragraph of their own, cutting and intensifying in that way, taking out what's flabby and banal.
In the short-story class, we spent lots of time thinking about endings. Why do the endings of short stories carry so much more weight, in proportion to the whole, than the endings of novels? We wrangle over the endings of particular stories we've been reading together — Dubliners , Eudora Welty, Agnes Owens and others.
What satisfies, what doesn't? How can the writer tell when it's enough?
Why has taste turned against endings that clinch too tightly, or have too much twist in the tail? The students are working on their own stories: with that reading and discussion behind them they can think with more scope and more audacity about where to go, how to sign off.
Rehearsing these things collectively loosens the tight fit of fear and inhibition, imagination relaxes. The writing course offers an audience. Everyone lifts their game in response to the exacting readers they'll face next Tuesday. Student writers are under pressure to learn to hear themselves, to hear how they sound, to make essential judgments about tone and pace and transition. Of course, all writers have always had to learn this; a good writing course just crystallises the opportunity.
In the past apprentice writers practised with a coterie of friends, or with their family, or with a mentor. Writing courses aren't free; but I'm sure they do help to widen the circle of opportunity, beyond the metropolitan and university cliques. It helps to be clean and presentable when teaching. Students react to sharp odours. It can't be like the University of Iowa during John Cheever's time when you could just wander in drunk and fall asleep for two hours. Today's MFA students expect you to be awake.
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I also try to get students to bring in snacks because I have low-blood sugar. But the snacks are really for everyone. That is what goes on. It's the non-universal stuff that is the most useful. Are you using description to cover the fact that you don't really know your characters? For me, when I'm working on a book, it's around words a day every single day. Five hundred words a day is too few. A thousand is too many.
The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt’s Donuts Story
I can't take the weekend off; if I do the book has dissolved to mush when I get back. So a teacher can talk to you about your process. Suggest different ways of working, different times, places, different rituals to get you in the right mental place for it. Again, this is very particular to the individual. You watch them blench. You say: so if you're going to do this, you have to think about how you're going to support yourself. I tell my students about journalism, about other kinds of writing, about crowdfunding, about grants, about balancing the day job with the novels, and the pitfalls of all of these.
Most people can't make a living only from selling their art, but almost anyone can put together a life in and around the artform they love if that's what they really want. You help them work out how to do that.
At St Andrews, we tend to teach that most problems writers encounter have already been solved by other writers: students learn to be good readers first. Often the most useful exercise is just to compare some bad writing with some good, and then learn how to articulate the difference between the two. This is most bracing when the bad writing is your own. Here's Robert Frost; here's you. What's the difference? I teach in three ways: seminars on poetic composition I take a fairly technical and linguistic approach, but not everyone does ; workshops, where students can hone their editorial and critical skills; and one-to-one sessions, which address the very personal business of "art practice".here
Your True Stories, in 100 Words
There are many useful textbooks that can help with the first two, though very few of those are about "creative writing" a term I try to avoid anyway. Almost no books I've read address "practice" very satisfactorily, though many students have benefited from reading ex-marine! My classes are undergraduates only.
It's as simple as that. No use of "exercises" or discussion of "technique". Novelists can afford to just start writing and see where it takes them, writers of non-fiction need to have a plan. Draw up a list of "landing places", points in your narrative where your reader can have a bit of a sit down and admire the view so far. Your job as narrator is to lead them from one landing place to the next, neither chivvying them along nor allowing them to lag behind.
Make sure, though, that you don't come over like a drill sergeant. The trick of good narrative non-fiction is to allow the reader to feel that they have worked it all out for themselves. Be ruthless about cutting out any word that you wouldn't use naturally in everyday speech.
DONUT SHOP by Randall Seder
In real life no one calls a book "a tome" or says "she descended the stairs" or refers to "my companion". A book is a book, people walk down the stairs and a companion is actually a friend, or a lover, or a colleague or someone you were standing next to at the bus stop. Be specific and be real.
At some point in the relationship between a creative writing tutor and a student, there will be a conversation that runs exactly like the closing lines of Samuel Beckett's novel, The Unnamable :. When you hear these words coming out of your mouth, the best thing to do is shut up shop for the day and go and read someone who is writing the kind of stuff that you would like to. You'll start work the next day with a better pair of ears. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. This is the story of a cute little dog… And his cute little boy. Things are great until the boy gives the dog a donut.
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The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt’s Donuts Story - FoundSF
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