RARA-AVIS: Re: Robert Crais

From: Frederick Zackel ( fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 20 Aug 2000

At Eyecon '99 I spoke with Crais about LA Requiem, and going with multiple POVs was his most difficult decision, one he thought long and hard about.

Earlier this summer, I emailed him about some "writerly" techniques, and he wrote back,
"Speech tags feel intrusive to me. I'll use 'he said/she said' occasionally--when I feel I must--but you'll notice that I NEVER use things like 'he replied/she answered/etc'."

He also said, "As for the number of sentences per paragraph...that's something that happens by 'feel.' I don't think it out, or count lines, but I do develop a sense of 'feel' for the pace and rhythm for the book."

On the other hand, Elmore Leonard decided years ago to use multiple POVs. What he does that is not just interesting, but helps define his style is that after he rough drafts each scene, he goes back and rewrite the POV of that scene from the most domineering character in that scene. The other characters therefore are either deferring to or competing with that most dominant character for power.

Leonard uses speech tags, also only "he said" or she said". Sometimes at the beginning of the speech, so the reader knows instantly who is speaking. Leonard will also use "he said" twice in a paragraph -- for the speech rhythm. His paragraphing is also based on the rhythm of the sentence.

Only the other (minimalist) hand, we have Shakespeare, who gives us only dialogue and entrances/exits.

Frederick Zackel

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