‘Mushed into a Book’

During a recent writing residency, a student suddenly exclaimed: “A novel is like a movie mushed into a book!” I smiled, discreetly jotted down his words, and then asked what he meant.

I don’t remember his answer word for word, but it led to an interesting conversation about genre. Movies, after all, are a form of text. Students often think of text as print and only print. But really, the definition of text is much broader.

One of the things I love about genre comparisons with students – especially diverse genres such as movies and novels – is that the conversations quite naturally turn to craft: the decisions made by the writers and creators of whatever genres we are discussing.

Discussions about craft are important. When students learn that writers make deliberate decisions about their writing, we can empower our students to make decisions about their own writing, too. My favourite question when teaching writing: “Do you think the author did this on purpose?” Yes! “Now let’s explore why…”

And if a student happens to exclaim a thought or realization they’ve made (like the student in my residency), take the time to explore their thinking. You may be surprised where the conversation leads!

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