Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pushing Things Further

I was just reading the long article in the New York Times Magazine about James Patterson. I am not yet a Patterson fan, because I don't like grueling books. However, I might try some of his other series after reading this....

The reason I'm remarking on this though, is that I do like the attitude that comes across in this article. He is very focused on the reader (as opposed to the critic or the publishing industry) and I am energized by the way he tramples limits. Kinda like a literary Jack Bauer.

While people criticize his books for being shallow, I do think the lesson of Patterson is actually a matter of taking things to another level. Go further, go deeper.

I think a lot of us 'advanced' writers who haven't published a book, or made a breakout yet, suffer from doing the right thing. You can write a story that doesn't make mistakes and does everything it's supposed to, but if that's all you do, you end up with a story that's no more than it's supposed to be.

Now... Patterson said something about abandoning pretty sentences and going all for story. I am a person who writes this way in the first place. (The most common comment I get is "Boy, this moves right along!") But since I don't write 17 books a year, I actually can do both. Because the first couple of drafts may be for story, and maybe a middle draft can be for taking the story to another level. But with each draft, I can also push the voice and language.


Kathy McIntosh said...

I haven't read a Patterson novel lately, because I feared they were too scary, but I may give him a try. I had heard he writes the outline and gets help from other writers. Can anyone write 17 novels a year?

The Daring Novelist said...

Did you read any of the NYT article? It's very interesting. I suspect most of his books are too scary for me too, but he writes romances and children's books too, apparently.

He does make a lot of use of co-writers (he's kind of the Edward Stratemeyer of our age). He plots, they write, he rewrites, is how it mostly goes, I think.

I don't know if I'll like any of his books, but I am intrigued, and I certainly am inspired.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think he's an amazing commercial success...lots to learn from him--I love that he writes what readers WANT.

Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen
Mystery Writing is Murder