John Irving on the Writer's Craft

after the success of the film of the world according to GARP people asked me if I was interested in being a director I said that when I felt like being a director I wrote a novel the novel to me is a demonstration of emotional and psychological truths it's not an intellectual exercise I don't see myself as an intellectual I don't even see myself as an artist I think of myself as a craftsman the craft of a novel is simply to make the story better more compelling more unstoppable on page 400 than it was on page 40 you have to make the reader interested in the characters before the reader cares about what happens to the characters and there has to be some kind of emotional payoff at the end my novels are driven by what happens at the end I've never written a novel where I didn't see the ending before I began and it was what happened at the end of that story that compelled me to spend four or five in this case seven years finishing it

25 replies on “John Irving on the Writer's Craft”

It can take years to develop the craft of writing.  Recently I heard the testimony of a writer named Parrish Gore.  He has a book on Amazon called Creepy Little Things.  He said he wrote for 20 years before he considered he had developed his craft well enough.  Love his short stories, very suspenseful. 

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I'm to be featured in Daytona Beach's "News-Journal" in September 2011 as a local author. I wrote a 96-page book entitled "Along the Far Climb Down" that's for sale at the notorious Polyester Books: 330 Brunswick St., Fitzroy (a suburb of Melbourne), Victoria, Australia. It's on page 1 of their web site. Type "Along the Far Climb Down" into Google's image file and you'll be nearly there.

I know what he means–I've been working on a book series for the past 7 years and I'm still not quite finished with the first book but I know exactly where I want the series to end up, which is why I'm writing them in the first place. The ending is what drives the rest of the story.

A Prayer for Owen Meany was all I read and all I needed to read. It's not often you can find such interesting story-tellers who don't use a great deal of violence and sex in their books but Irving is one of them.

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