Author Topic: Be a reader  (Read 1185 times)

Mark Hoffmann

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9479
  • Kudos: 19
    • View Profile
Be a reader
« on: November 18, 2018, 09:29:07 AM »
Got an email from Lee Child. It said this.

Quote
The only qualification for writing a book is to have spent a lot of time reading. If a person starts reading at ten and continues to read books all their life, they know what they like in a book, and what others may like too. Then you can just sit down and write one yourself, try to write what you think the perfect thriller would be.

I started reading at ten. I've read all my life. I read a book a week. Some weeks I read two books. I've read all Child's books; many of them twice. I do know what I like and what a good thriller looks like. I also know what style is. If you have read much Child you should recognise that I have been writing in his style in this post.

If Child is right, I could write a book. But I haven't. I must be lazy.

Hoffman had not written a thriller. Hoffmann's conscience said nothing.
Writing humour is the hardest thing since sliced bread.

The Severed Hands of Oliver Olivovich
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087SLGLSL
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087ZN6L6V

FB Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Hoffmann-Writer-102573844786590

Gyppo

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13174
  • Kudos: 37
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
    • View Profile
Re: Be a reader
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2018, 10:47:19 AM »
Reading a lot is definitely not the only requirement, but it does give you a solid foundation to build upon.

Lee Child is largely correct, in that reading a lot, from a wide variety of sources, will give you an instinctive knowledge/understanding of how words can be put together in a variety of pleasing - and sometimes not so pleasing - ways.

But some people are just born to be Readers.  They love words, but have no desire or drive to create the different worlds which they love to visit.  As writers we should love these people, because there are millions out there totally indifferent to our best efforts.

You can teach people the mechanics of writing, but the urge to tell a story comes from somewhere else.  In some it becomes a need, like an addiction.  These are the ones who can't not tell a story.  Even when they tell it badly they are still striving, still learning.

JT Edson, who wrote over 100 'Westerns' once said something similar to Lee Child.  He complained that he couldn't find the kind of westerns he wanted to read, so someone suggested he should stop moaning and write one for himself.

His early books show this glorious adventure, but as time went on he became obsessed with research and started adding copious footnotes to each book.  But he, or perhaps some real world editor, realised chucking huge blocks of detailed information about the weapons into the story itself spoiled the flow.

His brief forays into other genres showed that Westerns were his natural genre.

Lee Child clearly understands the mind of a vigilante and its appeal to many readers.  But despite the high body count at times Reacher never descends into video game slaughter.  He remains essentially human despite his training and ability.

Nor is he a mess of psychoses or addictions like some 'heroes'.  Some writers take the 'flawed hero' concept a little too far in this respect.  All readers know instinctively that 'a mad dog should be put down' even if he is temporarily on the side of good.  This why the first Rambo book was good, because he died at the end, but the follow-up films were much less satisfying.

=====

Read.  Read a lot.  Enjoy the story.  But somewhere along  the line, without analysing it to death, work out for yourself why some things trigger a gut level response and enthusiasm and others don't.  That's when you discover how writing works.  When you do it's a grand feeling.

Gyppo


Mark Hoffmann

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9479
  • Kudos: 19
    • View Profile
Re: Be a reader
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2018, 12:10:44 PM »
Gyppo

You are right about the Reacher character being human. I think the other thing he has going for him is his lifestyle - there is something appealing about it, to me anyway.

Imagine the freedom of owning nothing. Clothes are discarded when dirty and new stuff bought. He carries nothing but a toothbrush. All other comforts (hot showers, towels) come with the rooms he takes. No money worries because he has a military pension.

If I sold all my stuff I could live like that, but I'd have to dispose of my partner, and worse my dog! But I can still imagine what it would be like. I'd make a shite vigilante though because although I was an MP like Reacher I was in the wrong branch. He was in the punching branch I was in the thinking branch.

But maybe one day ...
Writing humour is the hardest thing since sliced bread.

The Severed Hands of Oliver Olivovich
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087SLGLSL
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087ZN6L6V

FB Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Hoffmann-Writer-102573844786590