Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: A Quote

Last night, I found myself reading an old interview with John Irving (The World According to Garp, In One Person, and one of my all-time favorite books, A Prayer for Owen Meany), and he had this to say:

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

That’s terrific, isn’t it? “Writing a novel is actually searching for victims.” It calls up images of police dogs sniffing the woods, or firemen digging through rubble–not happy images, to be sure, but how many successful books are about happy people? While I certainly try to make things worse for my characters as my stories progress, I haven’t ever quite thought of it this way before. Perhaps I need to keep this notion a little more front-and-center when I write.

What about you? Do you consider your characters as your victims? Please share.

5 Responses

  1. I guess I never really thought about it like that before, but yeah, they are! Victims are tortured and I certainly do my best to torture my characters. Maybe not (always) the blood and guts kind, but mental torture is just as bad.

  2. I've never really viewed characters as victims as much as people with a story to tell and obstacles to overcome. A good story has to have emotional and physical obstacles to get through before the happy ending. So, I guess I'd agree and say they're victims. 🙂

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  3. Yeah, I put my characters through some rough stuff. I'm frankly alarmed at my sadistic side sometimes. 😛

    Also, I really need to read A Prayer for Owen Meany.

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