The magic of the story

If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

John Steinbeck

2 Comments

Filed under writing life

2 responses to “The magic of the story

  1. Allister Hardiman

    My favourite quip on the act of writing is “a novel is a slice of life seen through a temperament” -EmileZola (although Corot is often attributed). I was thinking at Christmas about what a story was, and my labours boiled down to thinking of it as an act of disinterested intimacy: a gift of one person’s view to another, who has not that exact view. Is storytelling an act of love so familiar that we do not recognize it as such? Another’s opinion, when loomed and shuttled into a grander form, is a gift — way of turning ‘I’ into ‘us’. I think then, if love be the greatest of all magics (which I hold it so to be), then storytelling deserves the adjective. What an extraordinary thing it is, the ordinary act of writing.

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