and kill its excitement; if you try to remove the pattern of connection
and disconnection between human beings, you remove its emotional
rhythm and its human significance.
CULLITY: In writing the craft books, Imaginative Writing and Writing
Fiction, were there other craft discoveries that were exciting?
BURROWAY: There were a few aha! moments, but they had mainly to do
with teaching and from there found their way into the books. One in
particular I recall was the struggle to convey the complexities of point of
view. Controlling POV seemed to me so absolutely basic a requirement
of good writing but involved so many moving parts that it was hard to
talk about. So I sat down to pick it apart in some logical way, tussled and
moiled over it for the better part of a year—and then it did “out of the
blue” occur to me that it was a matter of who speaks, to whom, in what
form, at what distance. At first, I gave the unreliable narrator a fifth category all his or her own but then realized that unreliability is just another
form of distance: between the reader, the teller, and the truth. It was an
egocentric joy to share that insight with students and then to write it
into the books. I do think it’s a part of Writing Fiction that has been most
useful to others.
CULLITY: What are you writing now?
BURROWAY: Most of last year went to the revising and proofing of Writ-
ing Fiction (10th edition), for which, the original having been in print
for thirty-five years, I was able to retrieve the copyright and give it to
The same two drives that operate in human relations,
the need to climb and the need for community, the
need to win out over others and the need to belong
to others, the “tower” and “network” patterns; these
same two drives drive fiction.