How to Become a Writer Lorrie Moore Summary

Summary of How to Become a Writer by Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore’s short tale How to Become a Writer is well-known for its wit, humor, and frank depiction of the problems and obstacles that aspiring authors endure. Lorrie Moore’s writing style is unusual, and she is known for her ability to convey the complexities of human emotions and relationships. “How to Become a Writer” was initially published in the New Yorker in 1985 and was subsequently included in Lorrie Moore’s debut collection of short stories, “Self-Help,” also published in 1985. The narrative   

How to Become a Writer | Summary

The story introduces us to Francie, a college student who is passionate about becoming a writer. She dreams of literary fame and success, but she is plagued by insecurities and self-doubt about her writing abilities. Despite her uncertainties, Francie is determined to pursue her aspirations.

The first step, according to the satirical guide, is choosing a suitable pen name. Francie contemplates various options, recognizing the significance of a unique and memorable literary identity. This decision weighs heavily on her, symbolizing the pressure writers face in establishing their personas. Next, the narrative emphasizes the importance of living in a bustling literary city for artistic inspiration. Francie decides to move to New York City, believing it to be the perfect place to nurture her writing ambitions. However, she quickly realizes that the city’s harsh realities present their own set of challenges, and the romanticized notion of the writer’s life begins to fade.

As part of the initiation into the writing world, the story humorously suggests that embracing poverty is a crucial aspect. Francie comes to terms with her meager financial situation, seeing it as a necessary sacrifice for her art. This theme satirizes the trope of the struggling artist and the belief that suffering is a prerequisite for creative greatness. Amid Francie’s pursuit of a writer’s life, the narrative explores the realm of relationships and romantic hardships. She becomes involved with a man named Jack, a fellow aspiring writer who appears to share her dreams. Their relationship, however, faces challenges, and Francie is confronted with the complexities of love and artistic compatibility.

Throughout her journey, Francie experiences rejections and failures in her writing endeavors. She submits her work to literary magazines and faces multiple rejections, highlighting the vulnerability and resilience required in the face of criticism. As the story progresses, Francie’s dreams of literary success remain elusive, and her self-doubt intensifies. She questions her talent, and her choice of pursuing writing, and grapples with the possibility of not achieving her goals. In the final stages of the narrative, Francie attends a literary party, where she encounters successful authors and esteemed literary figures. This scene amplifies her feelings of inadequacy and highlights the stark contrast between her aspirations and the reality of her situation.

Ultimately, Francie’s journey toward becoming a writer embodies the struggles, doubts, and uncertainties that many aspiring artists face. Lorrie Moore’s satirical narrative provides a candid portrayal of the challenges encountered in the pursuit of creative ambitions. The story humorously and insightfully delves into the complexities of the writing life, reminding us that the path to becoming a writer is paved with both triumphs and tribulations.


How to Become a Writer | Analysis

Satire is used in the novel to mock the clichés connected with aspiring authors. Moore illustrates the ludicrousness of certain conventional assumptions about being a writer by presenting the tale in the style of a tongue-in-cheek handbook. Francie, the central figure, struggles with her anxieties and uncertainties, highlighting the story’s self-reflective aspect. Moore asks readers to analyze the irony and paradoxes inherent in the pursuit of artistic endeavors through satire. The plot explores issues of identity and authenticity. Francie’s struggle to pick a pen name represents the quandary that authors experience in developing a distinct voice and image. This subject goes beyond pen names to include the pursuit of authenticity in one’s writing and daily life. Francie’s journey of self-discovery and the difficulties she confronts in establishing her identity will resonate with readers who have faced similar obstacles in their own lives.

Moore delves into the attractiveness of literary towns such as New York, where ambitious authors frequently come in search of inspiration and acclaim. Francie’s choice to go to New York exemplifies the widely held view that living in a literary hotspot might help one’s creative endeavors. The story, however, also reveals the harsh realities of these places, where competition is strong and challenges are genuine. This investigation provokes thought on the tension between the idealized picture of a writer’s existence in such cities and the frequently rough and hard realities.

“How to Become a Writer” mocks the idea that pain and poverty are necessary for the creative process. Francie’s determination to accept poverty as a necessary step towards becoming a writer relates to the romanticized notion of the suffering artist. The narrative questions this idealization and focuses on the intricacies of artists’ life, emphasizing that creativity may thrive without causing undue hardship. As Francie becomes connected with Jack, the story intertwines themes of love and creative compatibility. Their relationship exemplifies the difficulties that creative people have in connecting with others who share similar goals. The novel delves into how personal connections may both inspire and stifle artistic progress, expressing concerns about the sacrifices required to follow creative interests.

Francie’s rejection experiences along her writing journey highlight the significance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Submitting her work to literary periodicals and being rejected several times exemplifies the vulnerability that many authors face. It also emphasizes the fortitude necessary to survive in this field. There is a recurrent sense of disconnect between Francie’s fantasies of literary achievement and the reality of her circumstances throughout the text. This gap reflects the frequently elusive character of creative ideals. The short story emphasizes the distance between a writer’s imagination and reality by comparing Francie’s goals with the world of renowned writers during a literary party.

How to Become a Writer | Significance of Title

The title quickly establishes a contrast between a self-help guide’s idealized, uncomplicated image of “becoming a writer” and the actual intricacies and problems that Francie, the central character, confronts on her path. The plot contrasts the ideal of being a successful writer with the hard reality of the writing profession. Moore instantly conveys the satirical tone of the piece by selecting a self-help-style title. The novel offers a witty and amusing satire of typical assumptions and misconceptions about the writing process, rather than practical advice on how to become a writer.

The title emphasizes that becoming a writer is more than just acquiring a set of abilities; it entails a deeper process of self-discovery and discovering one’s voice. Francie struggles with her identity as a writer throughout the novel, seeking to find the correct pen name and navigating the hurdles of pursuing her passion. The title relates discreetly to social expectations and demands placed on persons pursuing artistic careers. There is a romanticized vision of what it means to be a writer, and this title plays on the assumption that there is a set road or formula for attaining that position.

The title also suggests that becoming a writer is a craft that can be polished and grown rather than a question of chance or aptitude. Through satire, the novel addresses the writing process and the devotion necessary to enhance one’s skills as a writer.


How to Become a Writer | Literary Devices

The story is infused with satire, a literary device that uses humor, irony, and exaggeration to criticize and mock human follies and vices. Moore satirizes the stereotypes and romanticized notions associated with aspiring writers, the struggles of the “starving artist,” and the idealization of literary cities like New York.

Moore uses vivid imagery to paint a clear picture of the characters and settings in the reader’s mind. The descriptions of Francie’s struggles, the literary party, and the city of New York contribute to the story’s atmosphere and overall impact.

The story contains various literary and cultural allusions. For example, the references to famous writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald add depth to the narrative and provide insight into Francie’s aspirations and influences.

Symbolism is evident in the choice of the protagonist’s pen name, Virginia Dare. Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in the Americas, symbolizing new beginnings and the discovery of identity. The pen name choice reflects Francie’s quest for self-discovery and a fresh start as a writer.

The irony is used throughout the story to highlight the disparities between expectations and reality. Francie’s aspirations and the actual challenges she faces, as well as the discrepancies between her dreams and the literary party scene, all serve as instances of irony.

The story is narrated from the third-person limited point of view, primarily focusing on Francie’s perspective. This choice allows readers to intimately connect with Francie’s emotions, thoughts, and struggles as she navigates the writing life.

Moore’s use of dialogue contributes to character development and adds authenticity to the interactions between the characters. It helps to reveal the complexities of relationships and highlights the aspirations and insecurities of aspiring writers.

The story employs humor to engage the reader and alleviate the serious themes being explored. The wit and cleverness in the narrative help to deliver its critical commentary on the challenges faced by writers.

Throughout the story, Moore employs the theme of disillusionment, exploring the contrast between Francie’s dreams of literary success and the reality she encounters. This theme underscores the challenges and complexities of the writing life.


How to Become a Writer | Structure

The narrative is told in fragmented episodes, each concentrating on a different part of Francie’s path as an aspiring writer. These incidents are not portrayed chronologically, but rather as disparate snippets of her life. This disjointed structure reflects the way memories and reflections arise in the mind, adding to the story’s contemplative tone. Moore uses this structure to satirize customary advice and prejudices about budding authors, turning them into hilarious and sardonic insights.

The non-linear framework includes flashbacks and contemplative pauses, allowing readers to dive into Francie’s earlier experiences and comprehend the formative events that created her desires and insecurities. This strategy gives the character more depth and perspective for her current challenges. Despite its disjointed form, the novel retains consistent themes such as aspiring authors’ disappointment, the limitations of artistic identity, and the intricacies of relationships. These themes run throughout the story, linking the many episodes and providing a coherent reading experience.

Francie’s emotions and inner life are heavily emphasized in the framework. Readers are given access to her thoughts, concerns, and hopes, building a profound emotional connection with the protagonist. This intimacy encourages readers to empathize with Francie’s difficulties, making her journey more believable. The narrative concludes with Francie at the same party where it began, generating a feeling of circularity. This arrangement symbolizes that Francie’s journey, despite its difficulties and failures, has completed a full circle. The conclusion invites readers to consider the cyclical nature of artistic endeavors and the never-ending search for achievement.











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