Ben H. Winters said to us in a recent workshop, (my paraphrase) that a writer’s work is not to create stories, but rather to create certain feelings in a reader. The story – what happens – is very nearly irrelevant. Following is the best quote I have read lately on the craft of writing. It is about the decisions a writer must make. The decisions regarding what goes onto the page, and tremendously more importantly, what is left off. The decisions we make that shape the reader’s experience.

Of the innumerable effects or impressions of which the heart, the intellect or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion select?

Edgar Allen Poe – “The Philosophy of Composition” 1846