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Paris Review Interview No. 121 - The Art of Fiction with Margaret Atwood

When I’m writing a novel, what comes first is an image, scene, or voice. Something fairly small. Sometimes that seed is contained in a poem I’ve already written. The structure or design gets worked out in the course of the writing. I couldn’t write the other way round, with structure first. It would be too much like paint-by-numbers.

Christopher Nolan’s Inception

Consider a movie as a house. A typical house has a wooden frame, which to most movies would be the plot and narrative structure of the movie. This frame is often generic, simple, and easy to navigate through. Hollywood uses these structures to fill with concepts in order to customize them, the walls, carpet and furniture. Inception would be built a little differently. Instead of the concept forming to the structure and story, the story forms to the concept. The frame of the house is the high concept of how to enter a dream, what the rules are in the dream, how to travel in a dream, wake up and die in a dream, what you can do in a dream, how to get into a dream in a dream and what happens to time, what happens to people or how you can create things in a dream. Then Nolan fills this frame with his walls, carpet and furniture. He places the story of Dom performing inception to get back his kids, all while taking him through multiple layers of dreams where the audience learns more about Mal and how she died and how dreams brought her to her situation. It is alternative storytelling/homebuilding at its finest.

Zadie Smith's On Beauty

Harry just wanted Howard to sit down, start again. There were four more hours of quality viewing lined up before bedtime - antique shows and property shows and travel shows and game shows - all of which he and his son might watch together in silent companionship, occaisionally commenting on this presenter's overbite, another's small hands or sexual preference. And this would all be another way of saying: It's good to see you. It's been too long. We're family. But Howard couldn't do this when he was sixteen and he couldn't do it now. He just did not believe, as his father did, that time is how you spend your love. And so, to avoid a conversation about an Australian soap actress, Howard moved into the kitchen to wash up his cup and a few other things in the sink. Ten minutes later, he left.

David Guterson's //Snow Falling on Cedars//

"Ishmael gave himself to the writing of it, and as he did so he understood this, too: that accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart."