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September 2017, vol 13 no 3

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Chen-ou Liu

Beginning Writer's Workshop

"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
                                                                         Pablo Picasso

The workshop is held at a Toronto branch library. The instructor discusses the four key elements of a story: setting, conflict, climax, and resolution. Half jokingly, he says out loud, "That’s almost an acronym: sucker." He continues to draw our attention to all sorts of incisive acronyms derived from his words of wisdom on writing, and concludes the class with a warning: beware of clichés.

Many of us are impressed by his humorous teaching style, his straight-to-the-point communication skills, and most importantly, his passion for helping us to build successful writing careers. Over the sound of many hands clapping, a loud voice comes from the back of the room: "The writer is a cliché-sucker who spills out a string of little gems." All of a sudden, a silence descends over the room as if bats have just flown out of a cave in a big, snaking cloud.

two roads diverge
in the gathering dusk
I stop and wait . . .
his final words
echoing in my heart