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Madeleine l'Engle
Author of "A Wrinkle in Time". . Madeleine l'Engle.

Many authors talk about the precision with which they plot out their books, taking pride in being in full control of the process. Other authors, Madeleine L'Engle included, acknowledge and even embrace a less conscious level of control. In this except from a longer talk by Madeleine L'Engle, she talks about writing as a mystical process in which she, the author has a relationship with her story that is rather mystical. She talks about the story as having a life of its own -- with its own needs -- and herself, the author, as a servant of the story.

A practical way of helping students understand what Madeleine L'Engle is saying is that once you start writing you may find that the story you have created takes on a life of its own and that you need to follow where it (your imagination) is taking you even if this may not be the original direction you had planned out for your story.

• Let your story tell itself.

• Let your heart speak, too, don't just write a story from your mind.


Reader Interactions


  1. The idea of serving the work was also explored by Dorothy Sayers in MIND OF THE MAKER. There is a good interview with L’Engle here: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/madeleine-lengle-interview-transcript/ . She talks about plotting out her story to the end before she starts writing, but then letting go, not sticking to the plan if the story goes another direction. I wish in my elementary and high school days, English and writing teachers mentioned the plotting process! I was under the impression that you face the blank page and just start writing, and something mystical happens in the process. Now that I’m older, and have listened to actual writers, it’s a combination of craft and art. You have to plot to generate ideas as a springboard, and then one idea leads to another.

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