“plot” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007


·   a novel is most alive when one can trace the disasters which follow victory or the subtle turns that sometimes come from a defeat. ·   to know what you want to say is not the best condition for writing a novel. novels go happiest when you discover something you didn’t know: an insight into one of your more opaque characters, a metaphor that startles you even as you are setting it down, a truth that used to elude you. ·   we live in and out of ongoing, and discontinuous, plots ·   our love of plot comes from our need to find the chain of cause and effect that so often is missing in our own existence  ·   I look to find my book as I go along. Plot comes last. I want my conception of my characters to be deep enough that they will get me to places (which I did not plan) and where I have to live by my wits. If the characters stay alive, and keep developing, the plot will take care of itself. ·   most of our lives are spent getting ready for dramatic moments that don’t take place. ·   I no longer make up a master plan before I begin a novel. some of my best ideas come because I haven’t fixed my novel’s future in concrete. I want to keep the feeling that I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I prefer a story that develops out of the writing. ·   Characters (who are alive) need to fulfill their own perverse and surprising capabilities. ·   I don’t do my research too far ahead of where I am in the novel. ·   if you get a good novel going, you have a small universe functioning, living in relation to its own scheme of cause and effect. ·    Planning too carefully makes it almost impossible for one of your characters to go through a dramatic shift of heart. ·   the artist seeks to create a spell … a feeling that he knows something deeper than his normal comprehension … a sense of one-ness  ·   both artists and scientists are trying to penetrate into the substance of things  ·   coincidences occur … exciting us with a livid sense that there’s a superstructure about us, and in this superstructure there are the agents of a presence larger than our imagination. ·   stories bring order to the absurdity of reality. Relief is provided by the narrative’s beginning, middle and end.  ·   In analyzing novels, consider each major character, and describe where he was at the beginning of the story, where he ended up, and how he got there.  ·   Jorge Borges has a magical ability to put plots through metamorphoses, thus posing the difficulty of comprehending reality. ·  writing a novel is creating a world, God-like, presumptuous, intoxicating, never comfortable.


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