By Robie Macauley
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Extra info for Technique in Fiction/Second Edition: Revised and Updated for a New Generation
All novels have a past; all novels should live in a present of their own. Somewhere in the flow of time, the writer must draw the visible line between the past—a resource for memory—and what is (in the "novelistic present") taking place before us. In doing so, he must remember that only that part of "then" that has a bearing on "now" is worth being told. In itself, the fictional past is dead. It lives only insofar as it shades, energizes, or explains something in the present. " This is simply to say that a novel ought to begin within the context of the events it intends to deal with.
One seems to transform into pure energy and the story almost writes itself. Then there are a hundred others with much the same promising look and feel. Taking one of these, a writer may stubbornly work on its development for days or months until he at last must realize that it is sterile. ) It is very advantageous but often difficult to divine early the difference between the good seed and the bad one. : "Today, mother died. " In contrast with other notations, this one seized the writer's imagination and became the opening of Camus' novel The Stranger.
The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in the family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their household, were painfully conscious of it. . The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had not been home for three days. The children ran wild all over the house; the English governess quarrelled with the housekeeper.