Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talking about Novels

I've been reading a lot of interviews with writers for TV shows and comic books lately. I actually prefer their interviews, as opposed to interviews with novelists--most of the time.


Because comic writers and TV show writers are often more willing to talk about endings. They trust their interviewers to warn about spoilers beforehand. They trust the fans to avoid the articles with spoilers in them until they've read or watched.

And that's cool. I love to see writers talk about how an ending comes about. Alan Sepinwall's interview with Vince Gilligan, creator of BREAKING BAD is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I love all the talk about writing yourself into a corner. The info on the Cousins is great.

And why don't we see novelists doing this?

I think there's a lot of reasons for this. First, I think novelists worry that by discussing an ending they'll scare readers off. If someone knows what's going to happen, they won't buy the book.

There's also a big differents between TV/Comics and novels. Novelists don't know when a reader will actually open the book and start reading. Therefore, a novelist has to always be selling. Comics/TV writers know when the show is on, and even if DVRed, the fan has to be done with it by the next installment. There's a shelf life.

It gives some freedom.

But, part of me would love to see a novelist talk about an ending. I would love to know how Harlan Coben comes up with some of his twists. Or why Laura Lippman ended WHAT THE DEAD KNOW the way she did. I would love to see an insightful interview, with an author discussing a novel through a close read.

And, as a writer, I'd love to be able to talk about some of the plot twist endings in my first two books.

What about you? How deep and freely would you like an author to talk about his or her novel?

PS: This is my last post as a 30 year old. From now on, you'll be reading sage wisdom from a 31 year old. I hear that's when you figure everything out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Happy Birthday, Dave.
As a writer, I would love to hear them talk about endings. As a reader, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Dave.

At 16, you know it all, and you're not afraid to tell your parents.

At 18, you realize now you know it all.

At 25, after falling down on your face a few dozen times, NOW, you know everything.

Clear 30, you realize you don't really know anything, are amazed you survived the decade and a half since you decided at 16 you knew everything, and you're cool with that.

At 40 - or maybe sooner, since you're a teacher, you'll be telling teenagers, "Son, you have no idea..."

That last one's a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, at 70, you'll spend a lot of time trying to remember what it was you thought you knew, didn't really know, but were pretty sure of at the time.

After that... Um... What were we talking about? Who are you people? And where's my horse?

John McFetridge said...

Yeah, good point, Dave, I would like to hear novelists talk about endings. I think you're right about the reasons why, the shelf life and so on, but we're used to seeing "spoilers" now so people could probably handle it.

One other difference is tnat TV writing is usually group work and then a lot of producers and network people have input so the writers get used to explaining everything ahead of time and talking about everything.