Lessons From An Interview With John McPhee

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In an interview with The Paris Review, John McPhee discusses ideas about writing process and structure. Here are some highlights:

 “The fundamental thing is that writing teaches writing.”

 “Structure is not a template. It’s not a cookie cutter.
It’s something that arises organically from the material once you have it.”

 “Ideas occur, but what I’m doing, basically, is looking for logical ways in which to subdivide the material. I’m looking for things that fit together, things that relate. For each of these components, I create a code…”

 “If you’ve got good juxtapositions, you don’t have to worry about what I regard as idiotic things, like a composed transition. If your structure really makes sense, you can make some jumps and your reader is going to go right with you.”

 McPhee has also written about process and structure here.

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