How to Become a Writer


Lorrie Moore

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Themes and Colors
Creativity and Perseverance  Theme Icon
Violence, Trauma, and Isolation Theme Icon
Sex vs. Love Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in How to Become a Writer, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Creativity and Perseverance

“How to Become a Writer” illustrates that the pursuit of creativity demands relentless perseverance that is sometimes hard to understand. Written in the second person (addressing the main character as “you”), the story takes the form of a self-help guide, but the inclusion of specific details from Francie’s life makes it immediately obvious that this story is anything but a guide. In fact, the story’s form pokes fun at the idea that becoming a…

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Violence, Trauma, and Isolation

Throughout “How to Become a Writer,” Francie writes stories whose plots revolve around acts of absurd violence. Her first story features an elderly couple who accidentally shoot each other with a malfunctioning gun, and she goes on to write stories that are essentially just copies of this first structure. Whenever Francie turns in a story featuring one of these explosive deaths or injuries, her peers and teachers comment on the story’s nonsensical plot, and one…

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Sex vs. Love

In “How to Become a Writer,” Francie, the protagonist, finds the idea of sex uncomfortable and threatening. As a teenager, she’s compelled to investigate the subject by poring over the sex manuals and erotic magazines she finds in the houses where she babysits, but what she finds is perplexing. Francie doesn’t understand how people who love each other could perform the sexual acts she sees in those pages: for her, sex is not only…

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