The shape of storytelling

I wish I were the sort of writer who could draft a blog post without agonising unduly, but I’m not. Still, I don’t want to give up blogging altogether, and this is a useful place to store all those quotes about writing which are worth going back to regularly.

And so, to me that story and all stories are in one sense about the shape of storytelling, rather than about the narrative itself that makes up the content of the story. I would say that I heard the sound of what I was going to write a long time before I knew any of the details of the story. Before I caught on to what it was about, I heard the sound, as if the music had already been written and the shape had already been drawn. And I just made the details that fit in it. That’s why it’s easier for me to write a short story than a novel. Because I can see the shape of them more clearly than I can see the shape of a novel. And so when I write a novel, I have to shape the chapters. They’re not exactly short story shaped chapters, but they’re shaped individually so that when I get enough of them together I can begin to see a pattern of shapes that will shape the novel. This is all very abstract, I understand, but it’s what writers don’t get to talk about.

— Lewis Nordan