The Lesser Writer Will Haul Up the Moon.

Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening. Look at a point of land over which the sun is certain to rise, Coleridge said. If the moon rises there, so what? The senses are startled, that’s all. But if we know the point where the sun will rise as it has always risen and as it will rise tomorrow and the next day too, well, well! At the beginning of “Hamlet” there can be no doubt that by the play’s end, the prince will buy it. Between start and finish, then, we may concentrate on what he says and who he is, matters made more intense by our knowing he is doomed. In every piece of work, at one juncture or another, a writer has the choice of doing something weird or something true. The lesser writer will haul up the moon.

-Roger Rosenblatt

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