Re: Father Figure (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Positions still open)

From: Mark R. Harris (
Date: 14 Aug 2008

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    "...adding a homelife and real problems to a detective character slows down the story to hand and can add a saccharine element from which the story never recovers. Doyle, Hammett, and Chandler had it right: no matter how engaging the detective may be, he is merely a tool to unravell the real story being told backward in a mystery. Any element added to the character detracts from the writer's job, it does not add to it. The only reason for a detective to go to an AA meeting is to find a killer or find a witness to the killing. If the detective need to go to the meeting for his own purposes, the reader doesn't need to know about it."

    Oh, dear. I should know better than to respond to this, and I'll say right now that I don't intend to get into a lengthy dialogue with Mr. King about it (having seen how some of those go), but come on. In the art of fiction, anything can be combined by a writer sufficiently talented, including genre and non-genre elements. From any more nuanced point of view than that of a hard-core genre purist who wants predictable experiences over and over, this statement is inane drivel. How, in the hands of a competent writer, putting forward enriched characters with "added elements" somehow detracts from the
    "writer's job," is beyond me, no matter what type of story we're talking about. I can't disparage the statement strongly enough.

    Mark Harris

    Mark R. Harris
    2122 W. Russet Court #8
    Appleton WI 54914
    (920) 470-9855

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