8 comments on “John Irving on Writing.

  1. I love John Irving! My favorite quote of his is:

    “Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.”

    It seems to sum up what I love about his books. Like no other author, he always satisfies my curiosity about every single character in a novel, even the most minor.

    I was trying to figure out what to read next, now I’m inspired to go read “A Prayer for Owen Meany” again. Thanks, Gary!

  2. A man who speaks to my own heart. I’m exactly the same, but boy does it cause problems.

    I see he studied with Kurt Vonnegut, which is interesting because they both had the same philosophy of writing, in that Vonnegut considered writers to be either a “swooper (i.e. people who “write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work”), or a “Basher” (i.e. someone who “while ostensibly making sentence after sentence as efficient as possible, may actually be breaking down seeming doors and fences… in search of answers to the eternal questions: ‘What are we doing here? What is the meaning of all this?'”)

  3. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Irving, now, actually, jimsmuse. When he’s on form, he’s inspirational, but his tendency towards excess is getting a little off-putting — that and his alarmingly recurrent themes. His characters are always wonderfully drawn, though, yes, and Cider House, Owen Meany, Hotel will always have a special place in my heart.

    Incidentally, if you like Owen Meany, you might want to check out the samples of my current semi-autobiographical work-in-progress (in the Samples section) Children of the Resolution. 🙂

    I’d never heard Vonnegut’s theories on writers (those you mention, at least), Katherine. Interesting. I’ve always been a seat-of-the-pants writer, myself, working with very little preparation… until my latest project. With Children I decided I simply couldn’t work that way. I took a leaf out of Irving’s book and spent about three months planning and outlining. I like this way best. It allows me to focus on the language, something else Irving says, I believe.

  4. Pingback: Free Useful Stuff » John Irving on Writing. Gary William Murning Online

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