RARA-AVIS: Re:Survey

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 19 Jan 2002

>another comment: i don't think you'll hardly ever find the
>(a) option. a high number of secondary characters is almost
>a crime novel given. i've seen some writers, like ellroy,
>introduce an absurd number of characters... over 50 i'm thinking.
>geez! the bible didn't have that many people in it, unless you
>want to count all the begatting.

Better read the Bible again. There's way more than fifty characters in there, and some of 'em are pretty damned good characters.

But a lot of this depends on what Jose means by secondary characters.

I think of most books like Chandler's, Hammett's, even the Block one Miker mentioned, as falling into the first category, of having seven or less secondary characters. Sure, there are more characters, but I find the books I enjoy most have a major character, a small circle of supporting players and suspects, and then a much larger ring of people (tertiary characters?) who add colour to the proceedings, but aren't necessarily part of the second tier.

Anyway, it's rare I really enjoy more than one major point of view, because it's usually not done very well, or it's been done to death. I've grown to absolutely detest the alternating viewpoints of detective and serial killer, for instance. Stick a fork in that one, it's done.

By the way, in different hands, taking away some of the hocus-pocus, some of those Bible stories would make pretty good hard-boiled tales.


Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com
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