Responding to an interview question (“Are there a lot of plotless stories in your [Boston University M.F.A.] program?”), Leslie Epstein said:
When they enter the program, but not when they leave. I’m always stressing these things. Plot and dialogue. I say just sit your people down at a dinner table and have them start talking. One of the main things: keep out of people’s heads. Do not write like Virginia Woolf if you want to get through this year. What people do and what they say is, for the most part, all we need to know. No dreams, no memories, no photographs. Nor wind chimes. Nor moonlight. Show us what people do an d say. Of course every one of these rules is meant to be broken, but you have to justify breaking them.
What do you think?
(This snippet comes from an interview, conducted by Spencer Wise, in the latest issue of The Southeast Review. The print copy is one of the reasons I sign up for SER‘s writing regimens.)