“The two basic stories of all times are Cinderella and Jack the Giant Killer” and other notes from F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Art invariably grows out of a period when in general the artist admires his own nation and wants to win its approval. This fact is not altered by the circumstances that his work may take the form of satire for satire is the subtle flattery of a certain minority in a nation. The greatest artists grow out of these periods as the tall head of the crop. They may seem not to be affected but they are.
  2. Great art is the contempt of a great man for small art.
  3. The queer slanting effect of the substantive, the future imperfect, a matter of intuition or ear to O’Hara, is unknown to careful writers like Bunny and John.
  4. When the first rate author wants an exquisite heroine or a lovely morning, he finds that all the superlatives have been worn shoddy by his inferiors. It should be a rule that bad writers must start with plain heroines and ordinary mornings, and, if they are able, work up to something better.
  5. Man reads good reviews of his book so many times that he begins finally to remodel his style on them and use their rhythms.
  6. Realistic details like Dostoiefski glasses
  7. The two basic stories of all times are Cinderella and Jack the Giant Killer—the charm of women and the courage of men. The 19th century glorified the merchant’s cowardly son. Now a reaction.
  8. The Steinbeck scene. Out of touch with that life. The exact observation there.
  9. The episodic book, (Dos P. + Romaine etc.) may be wonderful, but the fact remains that it is episodic, and and such definition implies a limitation. You are with the character until the author gets tired of him—then you leave him for a while. In the true novel, you have to stay with the character all the time, and you acquire a sort of second wind about him, a depth of realization.
  10. In a short story, you have only so much money to buy just one costume. Not the parts of many. One mistake in the shoes or tie, and you’re gone.
  11. Play—For Act II. Something happens that to audience, changes entire situation, such as significant suitcase to country, or old terror apparently buried in Act I.

—From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Notebooks.

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