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.