Creative Writing: It’s the Little Things

Fiction is like a string of tiny beads. Life is made up of little things. Vivid sensory details shock us back into bodies, where we live and move and have our being.

Here are a few quotes I’ve pulled from Alice LaPlante’s The Making of a Story

“The fact is that the materials of the fiction writer are the humblest. Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.” -Flannery O’Connor

“Images haunt. There is a whole mythology built on this fact: Cezanne painting till his eyes bled, Wordsworth wandering the Lake Country hills in an impassioned daze. Blake describes it well, and so did the colleague of Tu Fu who said to him, “It is like being alive twice.” -Robert Hass

“Let a man get up and say, ‘Behold, this is the truth,’ and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.” -Virginia Woolf

“Often, if the triggering subject is too big (love, death, faith) rather than localized and finite, the mind tends to shrink. Sir Alexander Fleming observed some mold, and a few years later we had a cure for gonorrhea. But what if the British government had told him to find a cure for gonorrhea? He might have worried so much he would not have noticed the mold. Think small. If you have a big mind, that will show itself. If you can’t think small, try philosophy or social criticism.” -Richard Hugo

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