Monday, February 24, 2014

Creative Writer vs Creative Writing Major

When I first became a creative writing major, I assumed I would be able to write whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  The act of being a creative writing major has since abused me of this notion.  A person who is a creative writer can write whatever comes to their mind and asks to be set free, but a person who is a CWM (creative writing major) must write to the dictates of their major, and the restraints imposed upon a CWM are very specific and constrictive, although they can vary by professor.

Rules for a CWM:
  • Genre writing is strictly prohibited.  Writers can only create literary fiction.
  • Do not use exclamation marks.
  • Show, don't tell.  Readers don't want to be told what is happening; they want to be shown.
  • Write from the point of view of only one character.
  • There is no happily ever after.
  • Avoid sentimentality.
  • Dialogue tags should be limited to "said".  Use of "questioned", "remarked", "queried", "exclaimed", "sighed", etc will result in ridicule.  These descriptions should be apparent within the dialogue itself.
  • Refrain from using words ending in "ly", such as "longingly", "exasperatingly", "absentmindedly", etc.
  • Contractions can only be used in dialogue, thought, or first person point of view.
  • Vary your word choice. Repetitively using the same word can distract your reader.
  • Do not use cliches.  Examples include: "raised an eyebrow", "shrugged his shoulder", "winked slyly", etc.
  • Avoid unnecessary modifiers, italics (unless indicating character thought), bold, and different fonts.
  • Eliminate narrator interjections; the story should be told from the point of view of the character, not the writer.
There are many more rules than I can remember right now and I agree with most of them, but there are a few that really stick in my gullet.
  1. Genre Writing
               My first objection to this rule is that all writing is of one genre or another.  Even literary writing is considered the "literary genre".  Second, I love reading fantasy, science fiction, and romance, and most of the people I know would rather read a book from one of those genres than the literary genre.  In point of this fact (and my goal to be a relatively famous author), I find it unnecessarily restrictive that my major refuses to allow me to develop in the field of fantasy fiction writing.

     2.   Point of View

               There are a number of best selling authors who include the pov of more than one character in a single work.  A point to include in this criticism is the fact that CWM limits the writer to the form of short stories.  This limitation could account for the directive to stick to the pov of your main character.

     3.  No Happily Ever After

               My discontent with this rule is fairly obvious.  We live in a world that seldom has happy endings.  As a person who enjoys seeing others as happy as possible, I wish to write my characters as happy of an ending as their situations can warrant.  As long as the happy ending is not impossible to achieve based on the obstacles my characters must overcome, why should I not be allowed to give them happiness in the end?

I hope that my criticism does not deter anyone from seeking this degree, but I do believe it should be made apparent from the start that a Creative Writing Major is not for someone who wishes to be a book-store writer.  A Creative Writing Major is for someone who is looking for a place in the world of academia.  As my career goals include both the production of book-store novels and teaching at a collegiate level, I decided acquiring a degree in creative writing was the right decision for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment