Graham Swift’s Making an Elephant should be required reading on all creative writing courses. He gets to the nub of why and how fiction works as well as letting us into his writing life story [so far]. Here’s an excerpt from the opening pages where he talks about the ‘magic’ of fiction:
For writer and reader, fiction should always have that flicker of the magical, but it also does something that’s completely the opposite. Repeatedly, fiction tries to embrace, to capture, to confront – often grimly and unflinchingly-the real. This is one of its supreme functions too: to bring us down to earth. No better vehicle for this descending journey has been found than the novel. Indeed, from Don Quixote to Madame Bovary and onwards, fiction has been centrally concerned with the demolition of magic and dreams; with the way in which our airy notions come up against the hard facts or downright banality of experience. This is entirely healthy: fiction as a corrective to our evasions of an uncompromisingly concrete world. But the remarkable thing about fiction is that it can perform the two apparently contradictory tasks at the same time. It can be both magical and realistic. When we read Don Quixote and Madame Bovary we don’t feel coerced into bathos, we feel a thrill.
Writing Prompt #5
death by chocolate; a secret meeting; friendly persuasion; surprise party