Thanks to everyone who posted comments about my stilted-fantasy-dialogue and weighed in one way or the other. Survey says: majority of the readers are turned off by stilted dialogue unless it’s done right. There you have it. Just be thankful I didn’t post my re-imagining of life as seen through a romance novel. Or a The Hills episode.
Moving on, whereas authors of yore graduated from the school of hard knocks and Jack Daniel’s University (I’m looking at you, Hemingway), many authors these days are getting their MFAs and MAs in creative writing, honing their craft in institutions of higher learning. Authors such as Michael Chabon, Anthony Swofford, Daniel Alarcon and ZZ Packer, to name but a few of many, got their chops in graduate writing programs. Judging from the lists of distinguished alumni of these programs, not to mention the lists of distinguished faculty at these programs, these schools seem to be performing a valuable service for American letters (and books too!). I heard a great quote (I don’t remember who said it) along the lines of “Creative writing schools can’t teach you how to write, but they can teach you how not to write.” And that’s pretty valuable.
However. Some people feel that if you can write you can write, and creative writing programs tend to stress short fiction writing even as magazines such as The Atlantic are dropping short stories, and short fiction collections have a reputation as being difficult to sell. If creative writing schools are going to prepare a new generation of writers for the current publishing landscape, should they be teaching novel and book length nonfiction writing? Also, a lot of creative writing schools are very expensive, and in a world where writing is not usually the most lucrative pursuit, should people be spending the money?
So you tell me – how do you feel about creative writing schools?
I’d like to clarify that I have clients who have graduated from writing schools and clients who have not graduated from writing schools and I love them all, so I’m as neutral on this issue as an ambidextrous Swiss Unitarian.