RARA-AVIS: making it up as they go along

Sat, 20 Mar 1999 03:24:16 EST Recent post regarding Chandler's writing habits...

I've attended more than a few book signings and been amazed at how many
authors claim to just start with an idea and yes, basically make up the story
as they go along. Do they write themselves into corners? Sure! Sometimes.

Elmore Leonard is among the most notable of whom I've personally heard make
this claim, although it is my belief that he more carefully outlined his
earlier stories. Compare for example 1976's lean, inexorable SWAG with 1991's
rambling and tangential MAXIMUM BOB.

Larry Block says he thinks about say, his new Scudder idea for around 10
months or so, then goes somewhere, locks himself in a room for a month and
blammo- another bestseller.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Demon Dog Dostoyevski of American
Crime Fiction who writes outlines longer than most Gold Medal pulps used to

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