Saturday, January 31, 2009

Even Mr. Grisham Knows His Limitations

My finger's healing. Thank goodness. It was almost devastating not being able to type during the last few days. Made me appreciate the little things in life. Like my beautiful Imac keyboard, not to mention the monitor!


Back to writing... Charlie Rose (PBS) interviewed John Grisham Wednesday night for the full hour. You can see the entire interview at Charlie Rose. There was a nice rapport between the men, and I suspect they're friends. Charlie has interviewed Mr. Grisham 16 times. The reason I'm mentioning this particular interview is because Mr. Grisham admits that he doesn't write great characters. It's the story that matters to him. The plot. There is an interesting section on what he thinks his flaws are. He says his effort goes into building suspense rather then into character development.

"I don't want to spend a lot of time getting into somebody's head."

I found that a fascinating statement because characters mean everything to me. My stories are about people overcoming great conflicts.

Rather than me quote here what Mr. Grisham says, take a moment to check out the interview; you can view increments on particular subjects: plot, story development etc, or you can see the full interview. You may or may not agree with his ideas on plotting and pacing, but his numbers speak volumes on what the reading public thinks. Over one thousand readers showed up at his last Barnes and Noble signing.

12 comments :

  1. I've just finished reading Grisham's "The Appeal" this week. I've read pretty well everything he's written; most I've really liked, a few haven't impressed me. There's certainly no denying his popularity. I didn't see the PBS interview so thanks for the link. I'm off to check it out.

    P.S. - Glad your finger is feeling better!

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  2. I've seen interviews back as early as 1992. He's changed. In the early days, he was quite shy. He's relaxed, funny, and confident. He seems to be comfortable in his role as suspense writer.

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  3. I didn't see the interview either, but would have liked to. I used to read everything he wrote, but it seems that after he was contracted to write so many books a year he doesn't seem to write as well as he used to, BUT thats just my HUMBLE opinion. One thousand readers huh, that's how many showed up at my last book signing too---STOP laughing

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  4. You can go to Charlie's site any time and click on Writers on Writing and listen to all the interviews. Oh, apparently, Mr. Grisham only writes one book a year. If you listen, you'll hear him say he starts writing April 1st and has a completed ms ready for his agent on September 1st; then he takes 6 months off. Nice, eh!

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  5. I'm not a big Grisham fan, nor do I expect to ever be in the same league. Just never got into his stuff. I like creating the characters, not to the point of lengthy description, but they have to have personality.

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  6. Mr. Grisham even admitted that he longs for critical acclaim. He's quick to add that many of the literary writers he knows long for mass appeal.

    I long for the day I can balance my books. And I don't mean novels.

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  7. Having read a few Grisham books, I'd say his biggest problem is not his characters, but his rather dry writing style.

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  8. I feel the same way about Danielle Steel, yet the lady sells. I'm shaking my head wondering why.

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  9. Interesting interview. He was funnier than I expected. I saw an interviewed on his porch years ago and he was quite serious. Young, too.

    I found it interesting that he outlines before he starts. He doesn't know what the dialogue will be. Can't remember if he's regimental about sticking to his outline.

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  10. Yes, I remember his comment about outlining. Another contrast between us. LOL. There's a few.

    I can't write the outline until halfway thru, and that's only to help me move the story forward. Otherwise, I find outlines too restricting. I like the characters to reveal themselves to me as I write the first draft.

    But Mr. G did say characterizations aren't that important to him.

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  11. Odd how so many people say that they read for the characters, yet few bestselling authors write good characters. Perhaps what people really want to charge through a book to get it read, and good characterization would slow them down, make them savor the story a bit more. Or else they want to see themselves in the story, and good characterization would make them see the character and not themselves.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say about my books.

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  12. Hi Pat. I'm for good characters. I want to feel like part of the family.

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