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March 15, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Author Matthew Salesses head shot, and cover of Craft in the Real World
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Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping

Monday, March 15, 2021

Our guest, novelist Mattheew Salesses says, “When we write fiction, we write the world.” He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. His new book explores how we can rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds.

"The world has changed, and the writing workshop must catch up. An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in creative writing, Salesses’ text provides a compassionate approach sure to bring a new generation of authentic voices to the page." —BookPage (starred review)

The traditional writing workshop was established with white male writers in mind; what we call craft is informed by their cultural values. This bold and original examination of elements of writing—including plot, character, conflict, structure, and believability—also pays close attention to elements of workshop, including the silenced writer and the imagined reader. 

Matthew Salesses asks questions to invigorate these familiar concepts. He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. 

How can we rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds? 

How can we invite diverse storytelling traditions into literary spaces?

Drawing from examples including One Thousand and One Nights, Curious George, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, and the Asian American classic No-No Boy, Salesses asks us to reimagine craft and the workshop. In the pages of exercises included here, teachers will find suggestions for building syllabi, grading, and introducing new methods to the classroom; students will find revision and editing guidance, as well as a new lens for reading their work. 

Salesses shows that we need to interrogate the lack of diversity at the core of published fiction: how we teach and write it. After all, as he reminds us, “When we write fiction, we write the world.”

About Matthew Salesses
Matthew Salesses is the author of three novels, Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear; The Hundred-Year Flood; and I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying; and a forthcoming essay collection. He was adopted from Korea and currently lives in Iowa.