By faking the formal features and conventions of translation, these texts are ludic means of calling into question, in a parodic mode, certain characteristics of the very type of literature to which they pretend to belong. Rather than imitating their discourse, Bon directly ridicules and criticizes the writing rules these handbooks propose. Whether this subversion is to be taken seriously as a piece of writing advice or not is often hard to say.
Two examples demonstrate this approach. The first regards the Aristotelian commonplace idea that a story consists of three parts: a beginning, a climax and a conclusion. As pointed out above, in addition to formulating critique through parody, the set-up of The Creative Writing No-Guide as a pseudo-translation enables Bon to successfully expose and transmit his writing techniques and atelier tools.
This mechanism can be understood through Richard Sennett's concept of expressive instructions as set out in The Craftsman. Sennett explores the idea of the craftsman's workshop and the closely related problem of passing on skills. According to Sennett, the continuous effort of experts to explain their craft or to render their tacit knowledge explicit is an essential trait of any good workshop.
Craftwork establishes a realm of skill and knowledge perhaps beyond human verbal capacities to explain. Face-to-face interaction boasts the possibility of feedback and of bodily gestures. This is not the case for written instructions. Sennett speaks of dead denotation if instructions do not explain, but only name, the acts to be performed. Deboning a chicken is not necessarily common knowledge and so can hardly succeed in communicating to uninformed beginners what to do. Expressive instructions work in a different way. In order to communicate the steps to be executed, it turns to loose analogies.
These analogies inspire confidence because the task at hand is presented as familiar. Yet they must be loose in order to remind the protagonist that the act to be performed is indeed different from what is known and thus requires focus. Furthermore, sympathetic illustration anticipates and highlights the difficulties with which the protagonist might be confronted. This presupposes that the author of the instructions must be able to recover a sense of insecurity. It sets a frame, but leaves room for the reader to come up with the right conclusion.
As the term suggests, instruction through metaphor relies on images to pass on skill. Rather than simply retracing the creative process step by step, the metaphor's openness, while conveying the essential objective, also stimulates the reader to ponder the metaphor's meanings. The set-up of The Creative Writing No-Guide can well be understood as an attempt by Bon to share his skills by means of expressive instructions, most notably scene narrative, but also metaphor and illustration.
In fact, Malt Olbren writes and speaks he is both author and first-person narrator to a French audience from within a removed place and time. While the temporal distance is relatively small one decade , the spatial distance is larger. Olbren addresses the French reader from an American context and specifically from within a creative writing class.
This unfamiliar cultural context, which is further evoked through the rendition of details, combined with a fixed point of view, namely that of Olbren, are the chief constituents of the narrative frame in The Creative Writing No-Guide. Together they enable what Sennett considers a domain shift. However, to be effective, they must be sustained by fixed points of reference. These prevent domain shifts from dissipating into fragments. In the case of The Creative Writing No-Guide , Malt Olbren is the fixed point of reference that holds the events together and allows the domain shift to occur.
When considering the narrative frame in The Creative Writing-No Guide , one should take into account strategies on the paratextual level, namely the title page, preface and notes in the text. These paratexts produce a reality effect. For example, indication that the translation is a work in progress and that it is made possible thanks to the permission of the Malt Olbren Archive, along with a list of Olbren's other works, strengthen the reader's belief in the authenticity of the translated text.
As such, they contribute to overcoming the problem of dead denotation. The narrative frame in The Creative Writing No-Guide is animated due to the pseudo-oral quality of the written discourse. As Fludernik argues, pseudo-oral discourse has two modes of functioning. On another level, the tone of the narrative voice can suggest that the discourse is spoken rather than written down. The Creative Writing No-Guide comprises both types of pseudo-oral discourse. It includes not only English words and sayings, but equally French words and sayings about which Bon comments that they were in French in Olbren's original.
Furthermore, the pseudo-oral quality of Olbren's voice is brought about through the inclusion of ironic remarks, jokes, repetition, digressions and exclamations. As Sennett points out, scene narrative must maintain a degree of openness so that the reader can work out conclusions by himself.
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The Creative Writing No-Guide also creates space for interpretation through the manner in which exercises are presented. In some cases, it can be difficult to discern the goals and the progression of an exercise. While setting the framework, Bon leaves a part of the work up to the reader. He leaves blanks which the reader has to fill in through thinking and imagining, but also through putting theory into practice through the act of writing.
Finally, margins for interpretation can be found based on the structure of The Creative Writing No-Guide. What is the link between the rather obscure aphorisms in the first chapter and the chapters proposing writing exercises? These and other questions which are raised by The Creative Writing No-Guide 's structure contribute to the openness of the text.
They aim to make the reader think, imagine and, most importantly, write.
Although the reader may succeed in coming up with solutions to these questions, the answers are not immediately granted. One has to work in order to find them. In Sennett's terms, one could say that Bon is deliberately ambiguous in order to engage his reader in the narrative of The Creative Writing No-Guide as well as in the praxis of writing. Absolute closure cannot be achieved and new possibilities are always looming.
In addition to scene narrative, Bon also instructs through metaphor as well as through illustration. Metaphors can mostly be found in the names of exercises as well as in the already mentioned recommendations. While illustrating a central point, these images also provide room for interpretation, a space in which one can always come up with new meanings. By having recourse to metaphoric imagery, this advice, which is in itself difficult to put into words that tell rather than show, communicates a central facet of Bon's technique and simultaneously opens up a domain of unlimited interpretations.
Rather than addressing his public in a manner that inspires confidence, Olbren's tone is provocative and challenging. Bon traces the different exercise stages with precision by sketching their duration and objectives. Even more revealing, he shows where potential complications lie.
As mentioned earlier, The Creative Writing No-Guide must be understood not only as parody, but also, and perhaps in the first place, as a serious attempt to instruct expressively. This last aspect appears perhaps most clearly in Bon's use of illustration, namely in the precise way he develops certain exercises and pays attention to difficulty. The exercise's aim is to imagine, or in Bon's words to mentally observe, a crossroads.
This mental observation passes through different stages and only when the exercise is over should the writer start writing. As such, the main objective, like many others in The Creative Writing No-Guide , is the creation of conditions that permit the writer to write. One should investigate it as a word. What does it mean? What are its synonyms? Of this list, one should then select five crossroads and explore them in detail. What do the ground, the people and the objects present look like? How do the crossroads relate to the surrounding city?
Moreover, one should think of cultural references, such as crossroads in film, literature and art. Evidently, all these steps function as mental preparation. They serve to contribute to the richness of writing.
In particular, he cautions against too much haste. Maintenant tu les vois. To overcome these difficulties, Bon turns to the format of pseudo-translation. This format not only allows him to criticize those handbooks which he considers too conventional, but also to engage the reader by appealing to imagination. Bon's choice to bring out only a digital version of The Creative Writing No-Guide appears to go against the importance he attributes to sharing writing atelier practices.
However, The Creative Writing No-Guide is not conceived as a text that introduces writing ateliers to new readers. Today Publie. Among the many online writing projects Bon has conducted, the one that resulted in the novel Tumulte stands out as having received the most critical acclaim.
At the time of Bon's essay, he was adviser for La Maison du livre. The most notable example of this growing engagement is The Lovecraft Monument , an ongoing translation project of the complete works of H. Lovecraft started in Steinbeck and Gardner come close with fourteen and twelve references respectively.
The influence of Faulkner in Bon's work has been pointed out by Dominique Viart. Bon's appreciation of Faulkner might also be deduced from the number of posts about the author that feature on Bon's website. The fact that the last is mentioned only twice in The Creative Writing No-Guide might have to do with his work being used more extensively in Bon's specialized writing ateliers on the genre of the fantastic story.
Bon has been teaching writing in the latter's program since Lewin Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , p. Both can be read on tierslivre. Through the publication of general and special numbers covering a range of thematic and theoretical perspectives, the journal aims to represent established as well as new and emerging areas of research in the field of French studies. Peter Rolfe Monks and D.