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Art Craft Creative writing workshops

Mosaic

Lyric essay is a hybrid creature. It has the legs of memoir, the musculature of a polemic and the wings of poetry. Make it the way you would a mosaic out of fragments, shiny shards of memory and bits of string. Use a lyric essay to make an argument without ever stating your point or […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops

Writing the Other

I grew up reading Louise May Alcott. I still have copies of all her books: dog-eared, broken-backed, and beloved. On the rare occasions when I get sick, it’s a toss-up between Alcott and Jane Austen as comfort reading. One of Alcott’s books, Eight Cousins, features a white character (Annabel) who marries the “highly satisfactory Chinaman”, […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops

Talk to Me

Last week, a student asked me to talk about writing dialogue. She felt that her own dialogue was stilted, created solely for the purpose of completing her writing exercise for the week. I said something vague and probably wholly unsatisfactory, although this student was too polite to say so. I think I mumbled something like: […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops

It’s All About Me

Memoir is hot these days. Michelle Obama’s Belonging is at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Educated, a memoir written by Tara Westover, follows close behind. Last month, I sat in on a memoir writing class. Not because I want to write my life’s story but to cheer on the teacher, Ellen […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops The Shanghai Quartet

Rewriting History

Last month, I gave a master class on novel writing at the International Writers’ Collective. Because my debut novel is set in Shanghai 1937, we spent a little time talking about the historical research that went into The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Out of fear of disappearing into the research rabbit hole, I decided […]

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Author event Craft Creative writing workshops

Violent Femmes

Last weekend, I gave a master class in novel writing for the International Writers’ Collective. Or, rather, I squirmed in the hot seat while director Sarah Carriger peppered me with a series of home questions about writing and eventually publishing my novel The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. I did my best to answer her […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops

Finding Nemo (aka the Perfect Critique Group)

Finding a good critique group is hard work. Get into the wrong one and it’s easy to have your ego bruised or to lose your writing mojo. Some writers hate critique groups while others swear by them. How does a writer choose? First off: let’s get our definitions straight. There are writing groups and critique […]

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Craft Creative writing workshops

POV

I’m turning into a craft-obsessed monster. Everywhere I look, I see POV, narrator, mood, tone and voice. I blame this hideous transformation on my writing workshop. Each week, our teacher gives us a new set of craft techniques to apply to our writing. I’ve been using this opportunity to overhaul my many failed short stories, […]

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About Karen Kao Amsterdam Author event Book tour California Creative writing workshops

2017 in Words & Pictures

This so-called Chinese proverb is actually the brainchild of American adman Fred Barnard, who dreamed it up in 1921. He wanted folks to take him seriously, hence the fake Chinese source. Madeleine Thien is no huckster though she is a novelist. In Do Not Say We Have Nothing, she says the Chinese ancients believed that […]

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Amsterdam Craft Creative writing workshops

To Teach or Not to Teach

I’ve been invited to join the faculty at the International Writers’ Collective, a creative writing community here in Amsterdam. I’ve said yes (of course) and have flung myself headlong into the training process. Last month, I audited three of the types of classes I’m likely to teach. This month, I read The Art of the […]