Found on a newsgroup thread (might not be accurate):
Bertolucci was interviewed once about his directing. He said something like: directing is easy with one exception–getting a crowd in a room and getting them out. “That’s what directing boils down to…how to get people into a room, and how to get them out.”
One could boil (serious) literature down to: getting laid and getting people to forgive you (& vice versa).
For comic fiction, it’s: having the guts to pursue a silly dream, and making the bad guy look ridiculous.
For poetry, it’s: convincing the rest of the world that your world is much more sad…and much more beautiful.
(To continue the reductionist thread, I have immense admiration for the act of managing dialogue, character descriptions and straightforward presentation of events in fiction. The mechanics of an art form frequently require more talent than the art of cobbling together a series of epiphanies. The day I learn to orchestrate scene transitions without much effort is the day I become a genius.