Wednesdays with Words – April 16, 2014

Continuing on with the Narratives chapter in Good Prose:

“The attempt to render characters is a piece of writing, to create the illusion that people are alive on a page, is so essential to storytelling, and so dependent on every other aspect of the art, that it can’t help but seem diminished by the standard term ‘characterization.'”

“In nonfiction, events and characters stand in paradoxical relation to each other.  There is a fundamental difference between writing about a man who gets into an accident and writing about the accident.  The event is the event.  It happened. It’s a fact.  As for the man, no one knows for sure who he really is, what skein of motives and desires led him to this event.  And yet he, not the accident, is your fixed star.  Once you have selected a person to write about, that person has become the central mystery you want to solve, knowing that you never will solve it completely.”

“The honest nonfiction storyteller is a restrained illusionist.”

“The fundamental elements of a story’s structure are proportion and order.”

“Serious narratives offer us good reasons for caring what will happen to the characters.  Why those things happen, especially the characters’ motives, is a higher order of question than what will happen next, but most stories lack propulsion if they lack sequence.”

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