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.