Sunday, August 15, 2010

Insights into Writing: Ray Bradbury

A self-taught writer and recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Ray Bradbury is best known to readers for his classic novel, Fahrenheit 451.

He says he discovered himself in the library where, as a child, he spent long days every summer immersing himself in books.

Since those childhood years, he’s written more than fifty novels, including Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Martian Chronicles.

You can read more about his life in letters in the Spring, 2010 issue of The Paris Review, where he shares insights into his writing process.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

On keeping a schedule:
My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.
On outlines:
No, never. You can’t do that. It’s just like you can’t plot tomorrow or next year or ten years from now. When you plot books you take all the energy and vitality out. There’s no blood. You have to live it from day to day and let your characters do things.
On writing for an ideal reader or particular audience:
Every time you write for anyone, regardless of who they are, no matter how right the cause you may believe in, you lie. Steinbeck is one of the few writers out of the thirties who’s still read, because he didn’t write for causes at all. He wrote human stories that happened to represent causes indirectly. The Grapes of Wrath and his other books are not political treatises. Fahrenheit 451 is in a way a political treatise, but it isn’t, because all it is saying, emotionally, is: Everyone leave everyone else alone!
To read a longer excerpt from the interview, visit:

For additional online interviews with Bradbury, check out:

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