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Pickle Me This

May 14, 2008

Born full grown, or make room for a hero

“For a writer those things are what you start with. You wouldn’t have started a story without that awareness– that’s what made you begin. That’s what makes a character, projects a plot. Because you write from the inside. You can’t start with how people look and speak and behave and come to know how they feel. You must know exactly what’s in their hearts and minds before they ever set visible foot on the stage. You must know all, then not tell it all, or not tell too much at once: simply the right thing at the right moment. And the same character would be written completely differently in a novel as opposed to a short story. In a story you don’t go into character in order to develop him. He was born full grown, and he’s present there to perform his part in the story. He’s subservient to his function, and he doesn’t exist outside it. But in a novel, he may. So you may have to allow for his growth and maybe hold him down and not tell everything you know, or else let him have his full sway– make room for a hero, even, in more spacious premises.” —Eudora Welty, The Paris Review Interviews, II

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