Why should a novel seek for a tidy closure? Novels are inherently rather messy. They use time very differently from drama. Beginning-middle-end isn’t obligatory. They can wander through a whole lifetime, or follow a great circle like Lord of the Rings, or go right on from what seemed a closure (as happened with Earthsea — my mistake!) I have nothing against endings, but I do write in a form that doesn’t take them too seriously.
Ursula K Le Guin
Interview with Lev Grossman
The great short story writer Alice Adams had an interesting formula for writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending. You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw [the reader] in, make us want to know more. Background is where you see and know who these people are, how they’ve come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot – the drama, the actions, the tension – will grow out of that. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way. And then there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and…
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All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
Why I Write, 1946
I don’t think you should ever try to make things up. We all lead such strange lives that there is no need to. Use your own experiences and then twist it a bit. You should read what you have written out loud. I write a paragraph at a time and I walk up and down reading it out loud. It has to go te tum te dum te tum te dum. If it doesn’t, then there’s a word wrong. It hasn’t got rhythm, so I re-write it.
Why I write
I wanted to make sense of my childhood. I wanted to write it all down – but I couldn’t write it as it happened. I had to turn it into fiction because I didn’t want my parents to see it.
It was easier when I was young because I had no standards – I would just write. It was wonderful. I wouldn’t bother whether it was any good. It gets worse the more you know – your standards go up and up and you realise you can’t reach them.
Why I write
via (i the magician)
‘Bad writers,’ Auden remarked, ‘borrow. Good ones steal’ I like to think I’m a good enough writer to thieve – and do so blatantly. I ripped off Robin Cook’s (aka Derek Raymond) title How the Dead Live quite shamelessly, and gave it to one of my own novels. He was dead, so he couldn’t do anything about it. Some Raymond acolyte thought this was a bit much and wrote me an irate letter. Big deal. Besides, I don’t think Cook would’ve given a toss – he was enough of a Wildean to know flattery when it was staring him in the face.
Introduction to How the Dead Live
via (o the fool)