Thursday, March 15, 2012

Favorite Quote of the Week

"A novel is a mirror walking along the main road." --Stendhal

I've found myself thinking about this concept a lot this week. *Insightful* don't you think?

photo courtesy of


  1. Hmmm...

    Now you've got me thinking in a whimsical way.

    I appreciate your pun - i.e., what's "in sight" in my mirror? Clever.

    I'm also thinking about the implications of that old saying about objects in the rear view mirror being closer than they seem. Is my villain sneaking up on my heroine? Am I forgetting to check on plot details? Do my characters' actions mirror their motives?

    This quote gives me a reality check - but with a light touch. (Or maybe I'm just happy because it's "spring break.")


  2. I beg to differ with the quote. Novels hold a mirror to reality, but only to a degree. Obviously, if one is writing about unicorns, you'll never see that mirrored in reality. But also, novels severely limit life and what might be seen in the mirror. We all have so many plots and subplots in our lives. We decide, when writing a novel to focus on only one or two threads of a person's life. So in that way, it's a very narrowed, selective mirror that keeps 99% of reality out.

    1. That's a very interesting perspective. You're so right about the writer choosing which parts of a person's life will become the focus. Perhaps for those of us who write fantasy, Stendhal's "main road" is made of yellow brick? :)

  3. Ooh, interesting. Peggy's 'objects appear closer than they seem' cracked me up. Good way to think about that one. :)

  4. I love the discussion this quote has sparked! Thanks Peggy, Cathy and Kimberly for weighing in.

    Peggy--You've contributed much food for thought. Thanks :-) The rear view mirror thing; your villain sneaking up; asking if your characters' actions mirror their motives... Love it! And then being the fantasy writer you are, questioning if the road is made of yellow brick? What a fun turn on the subject.

    Cathy--you took the idea another direction, and that made me pause, too. As writers we do have to limit the number of threads we seek to develop--in order to create STORY, hook our reader, and keep them reading. Thanks so much for your thoughts on the subject as well. For me, I think what Stendhal's quote evoked was the idea of how, as we walk along that "road" of story we mirror emotions, feelings, the highs and lows of life. We've been there; our characters must live those things out, too.

    Kimberly--appreciate you being here, too--the dialogue's been fun :-)