When I was in college, I took a few writer's workshop classes, because I like to write. The beginners workshop class was pretty fun, but then I made the mistake of taking an advanced writers workshop. It was a nightmare.
The students in the class were all these pseudo-bohemian English major types who thought they were all going to write the great American novel. They looked like they thought they should be smoking cigarettes at a café in Amsterdam (or something equally pretentious).
One thing they did that annoyed me to no end was they couldn’t write normal dialogue. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to me, dialogue is supposed to open with a quotation mark and close with a quotation mark. I mean, am I on crazy pills here? Nobody managed to stick to this. We got people who would just put a little dash before the dialogue:
-Hi, what's going on?
-Not much. How are you?
Or maybe italicize it:
Today I am bored, I am filled with boredom, he said.
Or my personal favorite, not denote that it was dialogue at all:
It's rather hard to tell that I'm speaking, he said.
Oh, I agree, she said.
You arrogant pricks, just put in a freaking quotation mark, will you?!
One guy wrote this story that everyone was slobbering all over themselves for. It was about this woman who took a bus trip. I think the woman was also world-weary. I really don’t think anything else happened except that this woman took this bus trip for like ten pages. At some point, she got off the bus.
I remember someone in the workshop commented in amazement, “She got off the bus at the exact time I wanted her to get off the bus!” I wanted her to get off the bus too, mostly because I wanted something to happen in the story. Anything. I think this story won some contest later on. I showed it to one of my (math major) friends who didn’t get it either.
Maybe my problem was that I just couldn’t appreciate all kinds of writing. A writer once said to me that she had to teach herself to recognize what was good and bad in different styles of writing, even if it wasn’t the style she preferred. I can’t do that. I only know what I like and don’t like.
And in case you were curious, none of them wrote the great American novel. (Thanks, Google.)