Novelistic Intelligence aka the Telling Detail

If you want to know what novelistic intelligence is you might compare a page or two of Hilary Mantel’s work with worthy historical fiction by Peter Ackyrod or Susan Sontag. They are intelligent but they are not novelistically intelligent. –Andrea Barrett, “Dust,” the Paris Review, 209, Summer, 2014

Why “one perfectly chosen detail works better than an army of dutifully transcribed facts.”  Advice we cannot hear too often as we struggle to write the compelling story, the portrait, the poem. 

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