Story Idea-Welded-to-Emotion

Story Logic

My last post addressed story ideas and how to write down the ones that come to you before the idea

disappears. This post will look at idea in more depth.

In Catherine Brady’s book Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction, she states that a writer can discover the

right plot for an idea. “But ‘idea’ is not exactly the right term. ‘Idea-welded-to-emotion’ would be more

accurate to the nature of storytelling and is central to its effects.”

Brady quotes Tolstoy who stated: “Art is the means of transferring feeling from one man’s heart to

another’s.” When the reader “steps in, is the imaginative act of story complete; only when her feelings

and her intelligence are called into play can fiction generate what Flannery O’Connor calls ‘experienced


Brady also quotes Aristotle, who said, “Nothing exists in the intellect that was not first in the

senses.” The difficulty is that what “coaxes emotional investment from the reader,” may be different for

one reader than another. The writer’s metaphor is understood by some readers and passed over by others.

The reader struggles to reconcile the tension. “A work of fiction can’t be reduced to a single, fixed

statement of meaning.” Brady quotes Flannery O’Connor again: ‘…when you write fiction you are speaking

with character and action, not about character and action. The writer’s moral sense must coincide with

his dramatic sense.”

A genuinely dramatic predicament is not only an uncertain outcome, “but the reader’s feelings about it

are unresolved until the very end.”

I highly recommend Brady’s book, Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction.


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

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