The ability to keep people wanting more

Petrosino Square (Shamanstvo) ©MAIERMOUL
Petrosino Square (Shamanstvo) ©MAIERMOUL

It’s the storyteller’s quality that they have.

Nabokov said that he thought that the most important element in a novelist’s armory was what he called by a Russian word, shamanstvo. It means the enchanter-quality. The word shaman is familiar to everyone.

The enchanter quality, the ability to keep people wanting more, is not something that can be taught, and often it is associated with what critics call a “bad literary style,” but it is irresistible.

– Robertson Davies, interview, The Paris Review