The Gordon Method

As I've read Caroline Gordon's letters and essays and lectures, I've collected what I call my "Gordon Method" textbook: her best, most timeless advice to writers. Here's a sample of one of my favorites, sent to Flannery O'Connor in November, 1951, while O'Connor was revising her first novel, Wise Blood.  Gordon writes to O'Connor: "I… Continue reading The Gordon Method

The Scaffolding of Friendship

One of the most famous (and beautiful) lines of O'Connor's Wise Blood is her description of Taulkinham: The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast… Continue reading The Scaffolding of Friendship

Flannery and Gretchen: On Prayer

In “What Did Flannery O’Connor Pray For?” writer Gretchen Rubin muses about Flannery O’Connor’s devotion to St. Raphael. “As I’m thinking about O’Connor,” Rubin says, “I wonder if her prayers to meet the person she was looking for was tied, at least in part, to her art.” Utterly, completely: yes. (Rubin returns to this consideration,… Continue reading Flannery and Gretchen: On Prayer

The Writer’s Craft: un progression d’effet

… the note of the ineffable, the symbolic, can't be struck suddenly at the end. It ought to be prepared for from the beginning. This note of the archetypal, ineffable--call it what you will--ought to be what [Ford Madox] Ford called un progression d'effet. That is, it ought to have its own progression through the… Continue reading The Writer’s Craft: un progression d’effet

Caroline Gordon: A Writer’s Writer

“Gordon’s most numerous and appreciative readers, in fact, were other writers, fellow laborers in the literary vineyards who admired her quiet craftsmanship, her gentle control of plot, and the sense of place that made her books come so vividly alive. But it was her generosity to other writers, young and old, especially those seeking guidance from… Continue reading Caroline Gordon: A Writer’s Writer

Caroline Gordon: On Writing

“I think that the whole book would gain by not being so stripped, so bare, by surrounding the core of action with some contrasting material. Suppose we think of a scene in your novel as a scene in a play. Any scene in any play takes place on some sort of set. I feel that… Continue reading Caroline Gordon: On Writing