RARA-AVIS: Re: Cut off from Credible Characters

From: Gerald So ( gso@optonline.net)
Date: 20 Nov 2001

Jerry Healy wrote:

> I have a theory on why this repetition of characters occurs: Once you
> are successful enough to become a "full-time" writer, you by
> definition are cut off from a lot of the "real" world, "day-job"
> stimuli of meeting new people who can BE credible characters as
> realistic players in a mystery novel.

I've noticed exactly this in the recent work of "productive" writers like Leonard, Parker, and Coben. Where Parker once had a near-flawless ear for dialogue, his later books contain canned speeches on toughness from recycled characters (Hawk, Chollo, Spike; Quirk, State Captain Healy). Terry Dunn from Leonard's PAGAN BABIES voiced the same tough rhetoric as Chili Palmer in GET SHORTY. In the case of Coben, I began to notice recycled internal monologue from Myron in his last two books.

I think writers are wise to recognize when energy levels dip--either the author's or the characters'--and back away, as Jerry was before SPIRAL. And writers are really good if they can sense a dip before the reader does. It is interesting, as Mark mentioned, that several authors backed away at the same time. I wonder if everyone--readers and authors alike--felt they needed a break from PI series.

Thanks for your time this month, Jerry.


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