How to write like Lorrie Moore

All fall, I’ve been doing an on-line writing course called Story is a State of Mind/Story Intensive. Our penultimate assignment was to analyze an author’s short stories and I chose Lorrie Moore. I am not an academic and have no desire to crank out an awful, plodding essay reminiscent of those written in my university years. Instead, I wrote an homage/parody of Ms. Moore’s quirky style. We were tasked with sharing this assignment in a public way and so here it be, shared from my non-fiction blog, Redo Sue.


Read Self Help – Stories. Like a tourist guide. First, note the story titles, how cleverly they articulate the theme. Close the book. Panic because you are not Lorrie Moore. Wish you could kill this yearning to write, wring its wretched neck and bury it in bedrock where it will remain harmless for the next 40,000 years.

Start over. Open the book again. Note how she starts her story in the present tense. You hate the present tense. Acknowledge she is a great writer and you are a single cell amoeba. Learn to respect the present tense.

Start over. Read the first word that starts the story. It is a verb; a command. Read the first paragraph. It is a recipe for how to start an affair. “Meet in expensive beige raincoats, on a pea-soupy night. Like a detective movie.” Romantic. You know the character is reviewing the affair…

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