Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for March 27th, 2016

The mysterious gesture

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Flannery O'Connor

I often ask myself what makes a story work, and what makes it hold up as a story, and I have decided that it is probably some action, some gesture of a character that is unlike any other in the story, one which indicates where the real heart of the story lies. This would have to be an action or a gesture which was both totally right and totally unexpected; it would have to be one that was both in character and beyond character; it would have to suggest both the world and eternity…It would be a gesture that transcended any neat allegory that might have been intended or pat moral categories a reader could make. It would be a gesture which somehow made contact with mystery…

A good story is literal in the same sense that a child’s drawing is literal. When a child draws, he doesn’t intend to distort but to set down exactly what he sees, and as his gaze is direct, he sees the lines that create motion. Now the lines of motion that interest a writer are usually invisible. They are lines of spiritual motion.

Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners

Written by nevalalee

March 27, 2016 at 7:30 am

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