"I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it's good for the circulation. There has to be tension, a sense that something is imminent, that certain things are in relentless motion, or else, most often, there simply won't be a story."
Carver, Raymond. On Writing. 1981.
"... I really believe that all stories are about the capacity to endure change, and the experience of hanging on to what's important, love and family and work, through the great changes in history."
Erdrich, Louise. Interview. Online Newshour: The Last Report. 11 July 2001.
"A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experience meaning, and the purpose of making statements about the meaning of a story is only to help you to experience that meaning more fully."
O'Connor, Flannery. Writing Short Stories.
"If I have any particular job as a writer, it's to open as many doors and windows as possible and to leave them open. So the house gets drafty."
"Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else... Fiction depends for its life on place. Place is the crossroads of circumstance, the proving ground of, What happened? Who's here? Who's coming?..."
"Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them
is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it's an early form of
participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When
their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come
out, like a mouse from its hole.....
I had to grow up and learn to listen for the unspoken as well as the spoken--and to know a truth. I also had to recognize a lie.
Welty, Eudora. One Writer's Beginnings. Harvard University Press, 1984.
"I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in view—for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attainable a source of interest—I say to myself, in the first place, “Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?” Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can be best wrought by incident or tone—whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone—afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the effect."
Poe, Edgar Allen. The Philosophy of Composition