On Writing | The two distinct sides of a writer of fiction | Roald Dahl, 1977

Roald Dahl aged 17 1934

Roald Dahl aged 17, 1934

“And it was then I began to realize for the first time that there are two distinct sides to a writer of fiction. First, there is the side he displays to the public, that of an ordinary person like anyone else, a person who does ordinary things and speaks ordinary language. Second, there is the secret side, which comes out in him only after he has closed the door of his workroom and is completely alone. It is then that he slips into another world altogether, a world where his imagination takes over and he finds himself actually living in the places he is writing about at that moment. I myself, if you want to know, fall into a kind of trance, and everything around me disappears. I see only the point of my pencil moving over the paper, and quite often two hours go by as though they were a couple of seconds.”

“For me, the pleasure of writing comes with inventing stories.”

“You should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift, and you either have it or you don’t.”

“Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘So long as the facts are there, I can write the story. But please,’ he added, ‘let me have plenty of detail. That’s what counts in our business, tiny little details, like you had a broken shoelace on your left shoe, or a fly settled on the rim of your glasses at lunch, or the man you were talking to had a broken front tooth.”

“A good plot is like a dream.”

Roald Dahl, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, 1977

Ugly Thoughts | Roald Dahl, 1980

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