Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Precision on every level

Q: One thing that strikes me about your writing is its deep precision on every level. Do you feel as if your language is influenced by the precision of science writing?

A: I've been writing now for 25 years and I feel with each new book I've become increasingly obsessed with the kind of precision you're mentioning. There is a factual precision, and if you're writing realistic fiction, you want to be accountable to things as they are, to get the portrait of the world as accurate as you can. But there's also another kind of accountability, which is about the precise word or phrase or rhythm needed to capture the truth of human emotion. And that's so much harder. Even if you can get all your facts right, there's still that small register or diction or musical tone for the condition of the human heart you're trying to reveal. My writing just gets more and more obsessed with the sentence level and the word level of closing in on the proper formulation for both fact and feeling.

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