Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 17, Truman Capote



What did you first write?


Short stories. And my more unswerving ambitions still revolve around this form. When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant. Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium.


What do you mean exactly by “control”?


I mean maintaining a stylistic and emotional upper hand over your material. Call it precious and go to hell, but I believe a story can be wrecked by a faulty rhythm in a sentence— especially if it occurs toward the end—or a mistake in paragraphing, even punctuation. Henry James is the maestro of the semicolon. Hemingway is a first-rate paragrapher. From the point of view of ear, Virginia Woolf never wrote a bad sentence. I don’t mean to imply that I successfully practice what I preach. I try, that’s all.

via Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 17, Truman Capote.

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  1. July 24, 2015

    I’m rather partial to short form fiction myself. I’m glad I’m in good company!

    • July 24, 2015

      Short stories are sometimes the most memorable pieces of fiction…very good company, indeed!

      • July 25, 2015

        I once heard the short story ad being the prose equivalent of the lyrics poem. Wish I could remember who said that.

  2. rschulenberg
    July 24, 2015

    What great and insightful quotes; what a shame that excess took so much away!

    • July 24, 2015

      I imagine in New York you might have crossed paths? The later years were very sad — but how amazing he was — a towheaded literary comet.

  3. July 24, 2015

    Amazing … I’ve never seen any pictures of him when he was young … !!!!!

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