Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hemingway, Grisham, and Karma


I’ve never read a John Grisham novel. Hollywood always gets his work to the silver screen before I can get around to buying one of his books. Grisham, a laidback, amiable fellow, was interviewed on WNET by Charlie Rose last night. He said writing wasn’t really a job for him, claiming that it came too easily. He admitted that he didn’t like outlining very much and wasn’t fond of the editorial stage, but all in all, he counted himself a lucky man. He said he produced one novel a year and that each one took him only six months to write, leaving him plenty of time to spend around the house.

Even more interesting was his admission that he isn’t very interested in character development, in getting inside the head of his creations. He claimed that he was far more interested in what was going to happen in the next scene. The gist of his comments was that he wanted to write enjoyable books that would keep people’s minds engaged for a two or three days.

I suppose that some might feel he should pay more attention to character development—indeed, might even regard his statement as heresy. Whatever he does seems to work, however. By analogy, I don’t think Dan Brown’s novels would be such page turners if he delved into characterization. His forte is pacing--IMHO.

I must admit that I felt a little envious of this charming, unaffected man as he spoke of the ease with which he practices his craft. After a little introspection, however, I decided I’d have better karma by saying, “Good for you, John.”

Hemingway said that writing was simply a matter of getting the words right. It’s a simple definition that works for me. Not bad work when you can get it!
Picture of Papa: Public Domain

10 comments:

Julie at Virtual Journey said...

His visual imagination must be like a screenplay to write like that...
would explain the lack of characterization; The story is queen?

SzélsőFa said...

A very informative post, William.
Pacing is crucial, but to me a good novel is about character development. I don't mind if not much is going on - if that is the prize for a complete development of characters.
But then again, characters develop through events and actions.

I don't consider Grisham a 'writer', though. He has sold hundreds of bestsellers for sure and his stories can be brilliantly written, but that does not make him enter the 'high class', if there's one. Sorry for all the G. lovers out there.

SzélsőFa said...

popped back to say that I've read the post about the Bradbury book, Billy.
I think I will be heading to the local library soon to get that book :))))

Shameless said...

Different strokes for different folks. :-) When something is created, and there is an audience, then it's worked. That's all that matters for me.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Billy, I just loaded up Google Reader, and came across your StarTrek convention post that I'd missed. I laughed until tears came to my eyes. I know someone who will really appreciate that...

Billy said...

Julie, it apparently is to Grisham. My tastes are eclectic, but I've never read any of his books. (And thanks for reading the ST convention post!)

szelsofa, I was really surprised myself when he said that about characters. I guess he does indeed develop them through action, just as Dan Brown. Maybe it depends on the genre. I've read some good sci-fi that didn't have textured characters, but I prefer a little "fleshing out."

And let me know if you get the book--and find it useful.

Seamus, I have to agree. He's got an audience who reads his work. Hats off to anyone who makes people read these days.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

"Even more interesting was his admission that he isn’t very interested in character development, in getting inside the head of his creations. He claimed that he was far more interested in what was going to happen in the next scene."

That much is obvious if you read one of his books.

Billy said...

ssas--LOL. Well, so far, I've missed 'em all.

travistee said...

I've read a Grisham novel in one day. It reads just as easily as he seems to write. Lucky guy!

Billy said...

Travistee--he is indeed lucky. I'll take his royalties, characterization or no characetrization :)