There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Writers’ Insights Part 2

Continued from Tuesday's post, here are five more of my favorite insights from Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

But first, have you ever seen the oh-so-scrumptious movie Chocolat? Since it takes place during Lent, I always watch it around Easter and I finally watched it last night. Of course I eat chocolate during the beginning (middle and end) of it. When the mayor devours Vianne’s window display is my favorite part, probably the greatest scene ever filmed in cinema’s history. (Chocolate lovers understand!) If I were an actress in a scene like that, I would purposely sneeze or something so I could film it over and over and over!
Anyway, on to the five quotes I promised!

On Plot
“Fiction is the art form of human yearning. That is absolutely essential to any work of fictional narrative art–a character who yearns. And that is not the same as a character who simply has problems. . . . The yearning is also the thing that generates what we call plot, because the elements of plot come from thwarted or blocked or challenged attempts to fulfill that yearning.”
~Robert Olen Butler
On Point of View
“There should be the illusion that it’s the character’s point of view, when in fact it isn’t; it’s really the narrator who is there but who doesn’t make herself . . . known in that role. . . . What I really want is that intimacy in which the reader is under the impression that he isn’t really reading this; that he is participating in it as he goes along.”
~Toni Morrison
On Comparison
“The truer the symbol, the deeper it leads you, the more meaning it opens up.”
~Flannery O’Connor
On Theme
“When we dream we make connections that astound us later. . . . The same thing happens on the page when we forget ourselves and as it were, watch our own waking dream. . . . Later we can make sense of what we’ve created and craft it accordingly. That’s when we appreciate the poetry of our unconscious mind.”
~Tom Batt
On Revision
“. . .The first impulse in writing is to flood it out, let as much run freely as you possibly can. Then to take a walk or go to the bank . . . and come back in a day or six months later. To read it with a cold eye and say, ‘This is good. This is not. That sentence works. This is magical. This is crummy.’ You have to maintain your critical sensibility and not just assume, because it was an extraordinary dream for you, that it will be a dream for other people. Because people need maps to your dreams.”
~Alan Gurganus
Share with me!
What are your thoughts on these writers’ insights? Agree? Disagree? Do you use any of these techniques?

8 comments:

Saumya said...

I love all of these! The last one about revision is something I'm struggling with. Have you read Bird by Bird? She talks about "writing shitty first drafts" and just getting things down on the page. The perfectionist in me agonizes over every word. Argh.

B. Miller said...

Great thoughts and quotes! Thanks for posting these.

Laura Marcella said...

Saumya- I just bought Bird by Bird last weekend! It's so good; I love the part about writing shitty first drafts! Thanks for commenting.

B. Miller- Thanks for stopping by again and commenting!

Talli Roland said...

Thanks for those quotes!

And oh yes, Chocolat. Johnny Depp is SO yum!

Laura Marcella said...

Talli- I can't decide what's more scrumptious about the movie: chocolate or Johnny Depp!

Alyson said...

All those quotes are great! Toni Morrison's Beloved is one my favorite books. The point of views in it are astounding.

I have not seen Chocolat, but reading from Talli and you that both chocolate and Johnny Depp are present in the movie, I think I might have to rent it soon.

sylviadickeysmithbooks said...

Thanks for these! Great reminders. I resonate with them all. Especially the The Theme. I'm always surprised at what comes forth from the depths.

Sylvia

Laura Marcella said...

Alyson- Definitely see it! The book is good, too, if you'd rather read it first. I like Beloved, too; Toni Morrison is an amazing writer. Thanks for commenting!

Sylvia- So am I! Sometimes I think I'm completely void of anything worth saying and somehow something always rises from the depths. Writing is magic! Thanks for the comment!