In this final volume of The Creative Writer series, everything that has gone before resolves into a vision of the writing life that will move students far beyond mere theory toward practice and success. The goal of each 18-week section (one for short stories, one for poetry) is for students to craft a piece to be submitted to a literary journal.
Unlike previous volumes,The Creative Writer Level 4: Becoming a Writer doesn't include notes for mentors. Students at this point should be able to work alone, though Fishman stresses over and over the necessity of having an editor—writers grow too close to their work and need an objective eye to point out flaws, inconsistencies, etc.
Many of the same topics are covered here as in the preceding books, but more in-depth and with the design of helping students hone their skills and polish their work to the point of publication. The exercises become much more difficult (for instance, in the poetry chapters students begin to explore formal poetry and to write sestinas, villanelles, and more), but this is only to be expected as students who've progressed this far are presumably intent on a writing career or at least writing as a serious hobby.
Fishman helps students become disciplined, persist in the daily task of writing whether they have a hectic schedule or not, and to think and read as writers in order to develop their craft. Increasingly, exercises cause students to think outside the box and to use creativity and knowledge together to author the best work possible.
Students without a strong desire to pursue writing seriously will likely by frustrated by the minutiae in this volume. It would benefit any student to complete The Creative Writer Level, but most kids will simply stop trying after yet another exercise requiring them to write in a way that comes naturally to very few. Those who already love writing, however, will simply love it more under Fishman's expert and energetic instruction.
Some of the reading selections and assignments are a bit mature for younger students. If your middle or early high school student is working through this text, Fishman recommends you preview the reading assignments beforehand. Overall, this isn't a text for younger students, as they probably haven't had a sufficient foundation laid for them.
While it's possible to jump right into this last volume, it's best read after the preceding three volumes. Fishman follows a trajectory throughout the series that builds and blossoms as it continues, and this is the logical culmination. However you choose to use it, this is an excellent book and an excellent series, and we highly recommend it for all those (even adults) wanting to pursue creative fiction and poetry writing more seriously.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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