Amen to almost all of what you said. However, Leonard is one of those guys who comes up with a character or two or three, sees a scene, and begins to write with no notion of where the story is going. There are many who would say that "it shows," and I guess I'd say it has led to some disappointing storylines. Ellroy, on the other hand, outlines voluminously
-- he claims to have done a 250 page outline for what became a 450 page book.
While I disagree with his description of his plots as multilayered and complex, I would acknowledge that his sense of pacing is good, (especially for someone who is so enamored with detail) and that his many threads of plot always come together.
My point is that neither of these guys are really "series" writers, but one of them is very plot focused and the other is content to discover the story as he goes along. For one, the characters and how they interact is what is really important, while for the other, the story matters as much or more than the people.
Ellroy's method can lead to some dull and complicated books in less talented hands than his, but Leonard's technique can take the reader on a trip that fizzles out or turns unbelievable in the end. It requires skill to do execute either option well, but my belief is that the writer who never outlines any of his stories, at least in part, is going to write some puny stuff before he or she is done. Series or no series.
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