Tips for writing an English teacher-approved classic
Thu Jul 13 2000 at 3:27:18
Actual plot creating ability is not important,
took most of his plots from history or other people.
Philosophical reflections on
, etc., on the other hand are essential. Look at
basically a whole play about a character debating with himself over whether or not to act, providing tons of opportunities for the characters to lapse into
on war, death, action,
The more things that can be interpreted for
(regardless of whether the symbolism was intended) the better. English teachers love to take simple objects, characters names, weather, the light in a room, the lack or presence of a semi-colon, whatever and use it to show how the book has 15 more
shades of meaning
than it appears to have to any normal reader.
. By fancy language I mean pay attention to your style and sentence structure.
s get really excited when they can point to stylistic differences between authors.
Avoid happy, funny or
light hearted subject matter
. Somewhere along the line it has been decided that anything too happy cannot possibly have literary value.
Avoid genre fiction, especially
. If you want to write fantasy call it
, and avoid any mention of
s in flowery robes, or
s. If you want to write romances find some suitable literary term like
to hide behind.
Appropriate subject matter for a classic is historical fiction (generally related to war and heroes), as long as it is based on historical facts, and no hint of fantasy creeps in to spoil it. Other appropriate subjects/themes are the
Individual vs. Society
Individual vs. Nature
meaning (or lack of meaning) to the universe
or any other similar major
Do not be afraid to steal blatantly from other classics that have gone before you.
did. In fact at least three references to great literary works or the
are essential. English teachers seem to take such references as a clear sign that you are intelligent, and this sort of references appeal to their own intellectual elitism. (its like having special
with your friends.) If you do not actually know things to quote from try sticking a thematically appropriate quote from one of the various quote books out there. Along the same lines occasional phrases in
or other for language can also serve to highlight your education.
s are good. They not only provide symbolism, they tie the work into other great literary works. They all enable the English teacher to go on about how your character is the prototypical human, and how much they tell us about humanity. (Note for this to really work your character has to be an adult, white christian (or religion-less) straight male, otherwise they will just be a prototypical woman figure, child figure, minority figure, etc.)
Ideally you will break one of these rules just enough to pull off something new and original, like a new literary movement, new type of literary format, or new style, but not enough that you will stray into genre fiction or alienate the sensibilities of the English teachers by being too radical.
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