Author Guest Post
LARRY D. THOMPSON’S BLOG
I started writing novels about ten or twelve years ago, but I had been a reader of fiction for fifty years before that. When I began writing, I knew I wanted action and dialogue with plenty of room for the reader to use his or her imagination. I called my style “Old Time Radio Drama Writing.” If you ever listened to The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Sky King, Fibber McGee and Molly or Amos and Andy, just to name a few, you know what I’m talking about.
If a door slammed, you knew that someone was entering or, maybe leaving. If it creaked, you guessed something ominous was about to happen. Horses’ hoofs could grow louder or softer, depending on whether the rider was coming or going. The sound of a propeller meant Sky King was about to land or take off. And when the listener heard Molly shout, “Fibber, don’t open that door!” you knew the sound of a closet packed full of junk was about to erupt. The listener heard these sounds and the dialogue and had the privilege of filling in the description of the characters, how they moved, how they reacted to one another with nothing more than imagination. I might have pictured a bad guy drawing down on The Lone Ranger as short and squatty with a four day beard, and even smelling as if he needed to take a bath. My brother could picture him in a suit and string tie with a devilish moustache. Each to his own. But we knew that when he drew on The Lone Ranger, his days on earth were numbered.
So, when I began to write, I wanted the reader to know my characters by what they said and did. Let them use their imagination. For example, in THE INSANITY PLEA, my protagonist, Wayne Little is six feet, four inches with black hair and gray eyes. That’s all the reader knows until he talks and reacts to events. His best friend is Duke Romack, a criminal lawyer who was at one time an NBA forward. Again, the reader has the pleasure of filling in a description. In fact, while the reader would know he is tall since he was a forward and might assume he’s black, that is not even clear until Wayne and Duke have good-natured exchanges about their races (“Wayne, ain’t I your black brother?”).
That’s how I chose to write and still do to this day. What I didn’t know was that Elmore Leonard, the great writer of Westerns and crime novels had summarized this style in his “Ten Rules of Writing.” I suppose that I had read a couple of Leonard’s books over the years, but I couldn’t have named them. Then I stumbled across his rules. I could have memorized them, but intuitively I already knew them by heart, except for maybe the last one (which I will explain shortly) What follows are a few of his rules and my commentary:
Never open a book with the weather. Certainly, I agree with that. As Leonard says, the reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. In fact, I would carry that rule a little further. Why even bother to talk about the weather unless it impacts on what the characters are doing?
Avoid prologues. I disagree with this one. I have used prologues in several of my stories. In my current one, DARK MONEY, I open with a prologue from twenty years before the present to show how Jack Bryant and Walt Frazier met and bonded for life. I also had a prologue in THE INSANITY PLEA. In retrospect, I could just as easily called it Chapter One.
Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. Leonard’s advice is that said is far less intrusive than grumbled, cautioned, gasped or lied. I agree, although I reserve the right to use different verbs to carry dialogue from time to time.
Never use and adverb to modify the verb “said.” I couldn’t agree more.
Keep your exclamation points under control. Leonard says no more than two or three per 100,000 words. I generally agree, but I might stretch is to four or five.
Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. Leonard uses Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and asks what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight. My hat is off to Elmore.
Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. Personally, I don’t want to waste time to read about a character entering a room, and there are paragraphs describing the carpet, the chairs and desk, the photos and diplomas on the walls and the doodads on the desk. I would just write, “It was a tastefully done home office.” The reader can fill in the blanks.
Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. This one is my favorite. Leonard says that readers will skip thick paragraphs of prose when the reader can see that they have too many words in them. He continues, “What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating the hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.”
And Leonard’s summation is equally as important: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
I never met you, Elmore, but thanks for your words of wisdom. They make me a far better writer.
About The Author
Dark Money by Larry D. Thompson
Book 2: A Jackson Bryant Legal Thriller Series
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Format: Paperback - 430 pages
Kindle - 1088 KB
Genre: Legal Thriller / Mystery / Suspense
Buy The Book:
Buy The Series: A Jackson Bryant Legal Thriller Series
Book 1: Dead Peasants
Book 2: Dark Money
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
Jackson Bryant, the millionaire plaintiff lawyer who turned to pro bono work in Dead Peasants, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation's richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.
Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fundraiser dressed as a cat burglar--wounds the governor and murders the host's brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.
Jack is appointed special prosecutor and must call on the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack The Alamo Defenders' compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt's father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case-but Jack knows better. The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fundraiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, New York and New Orleans to track the real killer and absolve his friend and the Protective Detail of responsibility for the massacre.
Dark Money is a thriller, a mystery and an expose of the corruption of money in politics caused by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United.
My Book Review:
After a successful career as a trial attorney, Jack Bryant retires to his hometown of Fort Worth and opens up a pro bono practice out of a motorhome. He expects to help poor people with their legal issues, but nothing prepares him for what happens when The Alamo Defenders, a West Texas anti-government militia group wages a murderous attack at a Halloween themed political fundraiser event. Jack's ensuing investigation exposes the wide corruption of money in politics that will put Jack in a great deal of danger.
Dark Money is a riveting legal thriller that will captivate the reader from the start, and keep them sitting on the edge of their seat until the surprising conclusion. Author Larry D. Thompson utilizes his extensive professional experience as a trial attorney to weave a gritty tale written in the third person narrative that follows attorney Jack Bryant when he is appointed special prosecutor after a deadly attack at a political fundraising event by a West Texas anti-government militia group opens up a huge can of worms as he investigates and uncovers the accumulation of "dark money" (large political donations set up in a special fund governed under Section 501 (c) (4) of the Revenue Code via the US Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, while exposing the widespread corruption in politics.
This fast paced, action filled legal thriller easily engages the reader with a mixture of murder plots, investigative twists and turns, suspense and riveting courtroom drama. In reading Dark Money, the reader is transported into the middle of this gripping tale where they will learn about chilling true-to-life corruption in politics that is simply mind-numbing and will give them goosebumps.
With an intriguing cast of characters; witty dialogue; dramatic interactions; and a complex storyline that has just enough courtroom drama to satisfy legal eagles, while providing plenty of corruption, politics, murder and mystery that will easily keep the reader in suspense until the final piece of the puzzle clicks into place in a surprising ending; Dark Money is a thoroughly powerful, compelling, and chilling legal thriller that you won't be able to put down!
RATING: 5 STARS
Win A $15 Amazon Gift Card
There is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Larry D. Thompson. There will be 1 winner of 1 $15 Amazon.com US Gift card. The giveaway begins on Jan 24 and runs through Feb 29, 2016.
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