Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Quote of the Day

with 4 comments

Runners of the hundred-yard dash do not take off in the same way runners of the marathon do. If the opening pages of a thousand-page novel would serve equally well as the opening pages of a short story, the likelihood is that the novel-opening is wrong.

—John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

Written by nevalalee

January 20, 2011 at 7:50 am

4 Responses

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  1. I’m reading Gardner’s chapter on plotting right now–is it just me or does his approach seem a bit, um, mathematical? If A then B, etc. etc. Perhaps in a future post you can provide some examples of novels that you think are well-plotted and why. Great blog btw, I’m subscribing!

    Samantha Rajaram

    January 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  2. Honestly, the plotting process is so specific to each novel, especially a literary novel, that any general description of it is going to seem a little reductive. The best guidance I’ve found has been in books on popular fiction. Some of the most useful ones include:

    Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith
    Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block
    Writing Popular Fiction by Dean Koontz (or, if you can find it, How to Write Best-Selling Fiction)

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog!


    January 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm

  3. I’m enjoying the blog.

    the writer of the blog currently lives in Chicago … with his wife and a frighteningly large number of books.

    Would they kill a small pet?

    The books that is…


    January 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  4. If they fell on it? Yes.

    (Glad you like the blog!)


    January 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

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