Romanticism demands mastery of the primary element of fiction: the art of
storytelling—which requires three cardinal qualities: ingenuity, imagination,
a sense of drama. All this (and more) goes into the construction of an original
plot integrated to theme and characterization. Naturalism discards these
elements and demands nothing but characterization, in as shapeless a narrative,
as “uncontrived” (i.e., purposeless) a progression of events (if any) as a
given author pleases.
The value of a Romanticist’s work has to be created by its author; he owes no
allegiance to men (only to man), only to the metaphysical nature of reality and
to his own values. The value of a Naturalist’s work depends on the specific
characters, choices and actions of the men he reproduces—and he is judged by
the fidelity with which he reproduces them.
The value of a Romanticist’s story lies in what might happen; the value of a
Naturalist’s story lies in that it did happen.