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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Novel According to Irving

It was during the writing of perhaps his most popular novel, The World According to Garp, that Irving discovered he had to know where he was going in order to get there. Although he didn't discover it until he got to the end.

When Irving began the novel, he wrote, "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases." He thought he was writing the first line of the novel. Then he realized it worked better as an end to the first chapter.

"First I thought it was the first chapter, then the second, then it slowly made it's way through the novel until I finally realized it was the end." The line, of course, ended up as the last line of the book.

Since Garp, Irving always hones in on the last line before writing the rest of the novel. "That makes it as if the story already happened to me. I already know what I need to say and only need to focus on how to say it -- the language and structure and tone."

Do all authors agree? Only a terminal case would think so. Get another point-of-view from another established novelist in the next installment of Writeful.

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