Another writing prompt for the Author Blog Challenge is: Which writers do you most admire? In a week or so I’ll release Bigger Than Jesus, my first crime novel in a series. In part, the book is dedicated to William Goldman. You know the movies he has written: The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But you probably don’t know his many novels: Edged Weapons became the movie, Heat with Burt Reynolds; Brothers (a sequel to Marathon Man); and my beloved The Color of Light. What sets Goldman apart is his plotting, his humour and his enormous capacity to surprise the reader. Just when you think you know what happens next, he sucker punches you. I’m all about surprises, too, so I love that.
Who else? Stephen King gets a nod for telling a story straight and well and for sheer output. Chuck Palahniuk is another favorite because we share an interest in the weird but true. Also, Chuck does not rest on his laurels. He takes chances with his books. He’s not trying to do Fight Club over and over and he has even jumped boldly into experimental fiction here and there (like Pygmy and Rant.) What distinguishes his style is that he does not judge his characters. Things happen. Morals are for readers to come up with (or not). There are traits from Goldman, King and Palahniuk I either came by one my own or absorbed. I don’t really believe in emulation of other writers, but I recognize similarities in process.
Recently, someone on a podcast reported that fiction is dead. They said people don’t have time for novels anymore. They want it short and then? Make it shorter than that. The death of the novel has been predicted almost as many times and with as much certitude as “Vampires are so over, man.” I’d worry about the state of fiction, but then I read Run by Blake Crouch and I don’t think we have to worry. Write a great book and tell the story in such a way that the reader can’t put it down. Make them laugh. Make them cringe. Sucker punch them with surprise. The novel will survive. I hope so, anyway, because I am otherwise unemployable.
With each opening, with each beat, with every chapter that ends with a cliffhanger:
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
When Bigger Than Jesus comes out, you’ll see exactly what I mean.