Dungeons and Dragons: My dorky literary muse

“Writing is all about character.”That’s what they tell you, right?By they, of course, I mean the majority of professors in MFA programs in Writing the country over–MFA programs, it might be said, that have propagated in recent years like churches of a new religion, departments filled with spectacled prophets at the pulpit, elating the instantly talented, while leaving the unlucky, or underdeveloped, to recoil from the successes of their peers.Brooding around classroom tables, graduate writing students are set up to test their might. Their mentors, published authors of various degrees of repute, discuss prose and structure, poetics and politics, honesty and art. Character, however, they tell you–especially in fiction–is the key to a good story. And they tell you this essentially because they are correct. There are many things that novelists have to learn in order to actually turn their scribbles into marketable merchandise, and those things don’t necessarily need to be learned by dishing out the equivalent of a down-payment on a home. But if I walked away with anything from my MFA, it is that character is what makes a book readable. For someone, anyone, to pay tens of dollars to read what someone other than them has decided is worthwhile, they should be able to do so knowing that the imaginary people they’ll be spending the next 20 hours of their life with are at least a little complex (unless superficial husks are your shtick).Continue Reading…

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Dungeons and Dragons: My dorky literary muse

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