Why does Lorrie Moore use the unusual approach to her story "How to Become a Writer or,  Have You Earned This Cliche?"

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Every writer looks for a unique approach to a story…something that will make his tale memorable and set it apart from the ordinary story.  Lorrie Moore in “How to Become a Writer or, Have You Earned This Cliché?” does just that. Her story illustrates the development of a young girl into a writer.  It resembles an advice column not about love but rather a “how-to” writer’s manual. 

Using her own experiences, the author narrates the story from a second person point of view.  Even this is unusual because second person is the least used point of view in literature. Sometimes, as in this story, it is the perfect point of view since the reader feels as though he is a part of the story, and the writer is speaking directly to you. The story becomes more intimate when the reader feels as though he is listening to an internal monologue of the writer.

From the beginning of her attempts at writing, the author never finds anyone who actually likes her work.  From her mother, high school teacher, college professor, classmates---no one encourages her to write.  Most of the critiques are even mean spirited. 

“Where is the story here?” “Why should we care about this character?” “You have no sense of plot.” “How about emptying the dishwater?”

The conflict in the story is the author versus everyone else who read and disliked her story.  The resolution to the story comes when the reader reads this story. This is her victory.  She wrote something that someone edited and it was good enough to be placed in a book.

Intended to take both a sarcastic but humorous approach to her story, the writer obviously spent much of her college time frustrated by trying to find her traditional approach.  Finally, she understood that learning to write includes being discouraged.  This forces the writer to try harder and to tolerate criticism.  As long as the writer stays true to herself, everything will be okay.

After reading the story, it is obvious that Moore appreciates an original approach to a story.  Imagination is a necessity to a writer.  To her, the unconventional form for a story makes it interesting and unforgettable.

Probably the most important advice that she gives the writer is that he/she must trust him/herself.  She hopes that the new writer will listen to the voices that discourage him and then forget them. 

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