the stupid

one thing writers I know do on facebook is repost conventional wisdom of craft and collect gushing oh that’s so true’s.  this stuff can’t be new to them.  maybe they are reminding themselves.  that’s a good thing to do with the bits of conventional wisdom, find the moment in your writing life to call it up, use it for deft therapy.  was remembering an early writing class being told we ought to be able to tell who’s speaking w/out attributives.  might have been that playwriting fiasco.  might have been about how to make context do the work.  but it occurs to me now that if you wrote something where people in the same place were speaking that differently from each other, that would be a very particular piece, stylistically.  but they probably didn’t mean style.  I remember our efforts being stuff like giving each character a quirk or a tic to signal him/herself.  like this one always says “man.”  or a gathering of types like a movie, I’m thinking of one from the 70’s about a scavenger hunt, or the whole disaster genre (which has some enormous pleasures).  the teacher probably meant make the story have enough plot that the plot moves forward via dialogue and that’s how you know who’s talking, but either the teacher didn’t know that’s what he meant or the concept of foregrounding plot was so alien to me that I never had any idea what the guy meant to be trying to teach me.  I still think putting plot into dialogue is the stupidest thing you can do with dialogue.  I don’t even think any of the plays I like do that.  But I pretty much quit reading plays after school.  anyhow point is about convention.  I think for anyone who becomes an interesting writer MOST of what she’s taught feels stupid– not immediately– but eventually.  And also among the interesting writers different conventions will feel stupid and different ones will be the therapy in the dark nights of trying to write something.  Maybe the sharper the writer, the more specific or cleanly drawn the stupid.

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