Eudora Welty was one of the twentieth century’s greatest literary figures. For as long as students have been studying her fiction as literature, writers have been looking to her to answer the profound questions of what makes a story good, a novel successful, a writer an artist. On Writing presents the answers in seven concise chapters discussing the subjects most important to the narrative craft, and which every fiction writer should know, such as place, voice, memory, and language. But even more important is what Welty calls “the mystery” of fiction writing—how the writer assembles language and ideas to create a work of art.
Originally part of her larger work The Eye of the Story but never before published in a stand-
alone volume, On Writing is a handbook every fiction writer, whether novice or master, should keep within arm’s reach. Like The Elements of Style, On Writing is concise and fundamental, authoritative and timeless—as was Eudora Welty herself.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Welty (The Optimist's Daughter; The Golden Apples; One Writer's Beginnings), who died last year, was a master of the short story, of small town eccentricities, of dialogue and place and the messiness of human relationships-she was a writer's writer. Now, seven of her essays about the craft of fiction, taken from 1978's The Eye of the Story, are repackaged together in a little book that marks a welcome break from the myriad how-to-write-a-novel-in-six-weeks guides and good-natured but often ineffectual volumes of creative encouragement. In elegant and insightful investigations, Welty considers Hemingway's moralizing, Virginia Woolf's intellectual use of the senses, the "lowlier angel" of setting, the problem of polemical, crusading fiction and the novel as "an illusion come full circle" that "seems to include a good deal of the whole world." There is some advice to be had-narrative pleasure can arise from authorial obstruction, for example-but by and large this is a book of fond analysis, addressed to the serious reader and dedicated writer.
The thoughts and ideas of a life long writer.