“I abide by Carlos Williams’ rule for the making of a poem – ‘No ideas
but in things’ – and apply it equally to the making of stories. My
stories never start in an ‘idea’, unless taking that word at its root
meaning: ‘something seen’, an image. But even then I should want the
other senses to be involved.
My stories start in some particular and
very concrete situation, real or imagined, in which I think I detect the
possibilities of an opening line
(I could show in every one of my published stories what its beginning
was – but I’d rather not). I couldn’t write a story to prove or disprove
a thesis, support or demolish an argument, advance or hinder any
opinion or ideology. I do plenty of that sort of writing and I know how
unlike writing stories (and poems) it is.
I start a story because some
concrete image or situation prompts or pesters or forces me to. And I
don’t know where I am going when I start. I’ve met writers who won’t
start the story until they know pretty exactly where they are going in
it, who work it all out in detail in advance. But that’s not my
procedure. Sentence by sentence in every new story I feel my way.”
Do you write short stories? If you do, do you plot them in advance or let them come to you? If you read short stories, which are your favorite ones?