From My Bookshelf: Craft in the Real World

Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses challenges accepted models of writing craft and workshop.

“What we call craft is in fact nothing more or less than a set of expectations. Those expectations are shaped by workshop, by reading, by awards, and gatekeepers, by biases about whose stories matter and how they should be told” (p. xv).

Salesses made a call to rethink craft, whose stories are important, and what makes a story beautiful, moving, or good. And broke down what we know in order to liberate writers with diverse backgrounds and diverse ways of telling stories.

The chapter questioning and redefining terminology used in craft such as tone, plot, conflict, arc, characterization, relatability, believability, vulnerability, setting, and pacing resonated with me as I attempt to structure my next book on a search for stories. I had struggled to fit my writing into various “acceptable” forms of structure so that people who are unlike me—people who hear—will gain deeper insight on the nature of stories, the stories we tell, stories that other people tell about us, and the stories we actually are. However, Salesses made me think beyond craft. What is my theme and who is my audience? How does my theme and audience shape my purpose?

Where is my power?

And how do I use this power as an author?

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