‘Beauty of form, at least in my experience, can become an obsession that hides more complex problems—the story doesn’t work, I can’t find the right way, I’ve lost faith in my knowledge of how to tell a story. Then there are times when nothing matters but getting the story down. That is the most joyful moment, when I know the narrative is underway, and all I have to do is make it flow better.

… I look back at what I’ve done. I get rid of redundancies, I fill in what seems barely sketched, and I explore paths that the text itself now suggests to me. Then, once I finish the story, I give it a really thorough going-over. There will be various drafts and corrections, reworkings, new inserts, until a few hours before the book goes to press. In that phase I become sensitive to every detail of daily life. I see an effect of light and make a note of it. I see a plant in a meadow and try not to forget it. I make lists of words, I write down phrases I hear on the street. I work a lot—on the proofs, too—and there is nothing that can’t, at the last moment, end up in the story, become an element in a landscape, the second term of a simile, a metaphor, a new dialogue, the ­unexpected and yet not outlandish adjective I was looking for.’

– Elena Ferrante, The Art of Fiction No. 228, The Paris Review

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com