Quotation of the Week: Rebecca Makkai

“One of the first difficult lessons that I had to learn as a writer was to push my characters into doing really inappropriate things, whether it’s a criminal act in this really extreme case, or just saying something that a normal person would keep their mouth shut about, or forcing a confrontation. In everyday life we act really politely and we don’t always say what is on our mind and we don’t always get ourselves into messes. But you have no story unless you’re willing to push somebody to the brink. You find the moment where the character says something they wouldn’t normally say or does something they wouldn’t normally do. They go over that line and you have a story.”

–Rebecca Makkai

Source: This terrific, extensive interview in Trop. (FYI: We have a Q&A w/Rebecca right here on this site, too.)

Quotation of the Week: Dinty W. Moore

“You work with what is given to you. You arrange the puzzle pieces taken from the nonfiction box without reaching over into the fiction box, as tempting as it may be. You do your best to pull up honest memory. Though we know memory’s weakness, at least don’t lie about what you think you remember. When you are not sure, you tell the reader. When you want to change something, explore why you want to change it. Fiction approaches a certain sort of truth, and thank goodness we have fiction, but it is not the same truth that nonfiction attempts. Know the difference. As a nonfiction writer, you will surely make mistakes, get things wrong, remember poorly, but to do it knowingly, that’s crossing the line.”

Source: Dinty W. Moore, “What is Given: Against Knowingly Changing the Truth,” part of a worthy exchange with Jill Talbot on the Brevity blog.