Re: RARA-AVIS: "Red Harvest" and characterization

From: Schooley (
Date: 30 Oct 2001

Carrie Pruett wrote:

> All of the characters besides the Op
> are totally static and basically flat. They don't change and only in a few
> instances does the progress of the story reveal anything new about them.
> There's nothing wrong or bad about this, but it is contrary to the
> expectations of most of today's readers.


> But it's a matter of taste. Plot and style can be interesting but
> ultimately I very rarely give a rip about a book if I don't care about the
> characters.

Admittedly I'm out of step in a world where politicians are re-elected for their skill with 30 second photo-ops and major corporations promote their brands while selling shoddy goods manufactured by foreign, indentured labour, but I persist in thinking it important to judge people based upon what they do rather than what they have to say about themselves. I understand it is unfashionable in most schools to teach the relative merits of these two forms of expression, especially in "literature" courses. That's why I enjoy crime fiction, where I find more writers who appreciate that characters are revealed through meaningful plots, rather than in long expositions of inner turmoil. A good plot is the test of the characters' points of view.

When it comes to a good read, I want it all- plot, style, characterization and any extras the author is talented enough to provide. As a writer I know that's a tall order, but when people like Mosely, Grafton, MacDonald, Ellroy, occasionally Leonard, Cain, Hayter, Thompson and so many others provide it, why settle for less?


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The evil that men do lives after them at
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