Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grace Notes

1. Grace notes are, among other things, musical ornaments, on-ramps to flourish if not outright improvisation.

2. Grace notes often come when the listener least expects them.

3. Grace notes are opportunities for the composer and/or the player to stretch out, have fun, perhaps even encounter an unanticipated discovery about the work in progress, the laws of convention that govern it, and explanations of the laws of harmonics heretofore unexploited.

4. In some ways, details are the grace notes of essays, short stories, and novels; they are the sine qua non of poetry.

5. Let's give them a name; let's call them grace details.

6. They are observations, facts, conclusions that at first blush appear to have no relationship to the topic/theme/story at hand but which, on further reflection, or with some deft carpentry, turn out to be relevant, which is to say enhancing.

7. Grace details may obtain with characters, their motivations and secret yearnings.

8. Grace details may say something about setting that warns the reader if not the characters to watch out for surprises to come.

9. Grace details may take the form of memory, association, objective correlative, they could be the design on the side of a cup.

10. You find yourself sometimes vexed to irritable indecision by the dialectic over whether to allow the grace detail to stay or to press the delete key. Although a distraction at first, this pair of opposites becomes a Post-it note from the viscera, reminding you of a discovery, knocking at the door, the porter at the gate in Macbeth.

11. Grace details are the unrecognized rewards of writing, far more meaningful than publication, which is indeed a kind of connection, a connection with others.

12. Grace details are connections with yourself.

13. How good is that?


x said...

That's really beautiful. I'm realizing how connecting with myself needs to be primary, because it leads to a much deeper connecting with others, and even if there is no connection with others, it's rewarding in itself..

Unknown said...

I love grace details. The more the better. Robert Jordan, may he rest in peace, was a master with them. Some appear in the very first volume, alluding to events forthcoming in the ninth and tenth volumes. That much foresight while writing, to me, is masterful.

Depth. It's all about depth. The more depth a reader has, the more they can experience the character and their story.

Unknown said...

My favorite thing, as a fiction writer, is being surprised by what I find on the page. Those things are always true, and always doors into something I need to know; taps on the shoulder from whatever it is in me that wants to speak and wants to override what my brain thinks I want to say.

Grace indeed. Amazing grace.