How is Loorie Moore's "How to Become a Writer" ironic?

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poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Lorrie Moore's "How to Become a Writer" is ironic for several reasons. First, Francie repeatedly receives feedback on her work that intermingles various positive comments ("Some of your images are quite nice," "Much of your writing is smooth and energetic," etc.) with one huge critique: Francie has no understanding of how plot functions. This problem mirrors the construction of the story itself, which has no particular sense of plot and meanders through the indecisive approach Francie takes to her craft and "career." 

This story is also ironic in that it neglects to address the real answer to the question the narrative poses. How does one become a writer? Well, one does what Moore herself has done here: that is to say, one writes. The story intentionally gets lost in the anecdotal confusion of its protagonist who is brutally insecure, unsure, and (more often than not) discouraged; she spends a great deal of time considering other careers, dating bad boyfriends, and wrangling with the criticism of her friends, peers, and families rather than actually writing. 

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epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Francie, the speaker of Moore’s "How to Become a Writer," comments a number of times about how she has been told, by teachers and fellow students, that the plots of her stories are weak. Superficially, and ironically, the same comment might be made about "How to Become a Writer." It does have a plot though, if one was carefully checking for a pulse to take of this story, one might have to press rather hard; and it manges to escape this irony at the very conclusion. It is an apparent paradox that may or may not be present depending on one's interpretation of the intended meaning of the work and its dramatic effect on the reader.

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