Showing posts with label Lee Child. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee Child. Show all posts

Sep 26, 2016

How Much Is Enough?

Thanks, George Michael! My version of that question doesn't apply to "Star People" but rather to series books. How many books can a series contain before it gets stale?

I guess it depends on the writer, and to some extent on readers. Some series characters I have stuck with for a long time, like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, Dean Koontz' Odd Thomas, and Michael Connelly 's Harry Bosch. Some books are more memorable than others, but in the end it's the main character that brings me back when the next book is released. I will admit in at least one case above I recently reached my limit. I'm tired of the character and have no curiosity about what the next adventure is.

Some series characters grow and change, and some don't. Harry Bosch moves through time, falling in love, gaining a daughter, rejecting change, and recently retiring from the police force. Grafton takes a different approach, consciously leaving Kinsey in the last millennium (a good choice given that she's got 24 adventures out there and two more to go).

In the case of other authors' work, I often tire of the main character after only a book or two. Other readers wait eagerly for installment #23, so it could be me. It also could be that I learn everything there is to know about the character(s) early on. To keep things interesting, some authors start doing things to their protagonists that I find unpleasant to read. Others change the character in ways that repel me. While I know that being a detective/vigilante/sleuth might make a person more and more violent, I don't want to spend time with them any more when they step over certain lines, especially if they don't suffer emotionally because of it.

What this does for me as an author is make me reluctant to write a lot of books about one character or set of characters. I suppose I would if they had more to offer the reader, but as soon as I feel we know everything about them, usually three to five books, it's time to move on. Someone recently wrote to ask for another Dead Detective novel. While I had a great time presenting my whimsical view of the Afterlife, I think that topic has been covered. If I think of something, maybe.

What works for Lee Child just doesn't work for me.

Book #4: The Last One?

Apr 11, 2016

Disposable Bad Guys

There's been a discussion on one of my chat groups concerning the casual killing of "bad guys" in movies and books. There are two schools of thought.

First, it's escapist fiction, so it's supposed to by over-the-top. I enjoy the characters in NCIS-LA, but in almost every episode there is a scene where they blow away everyone who might be a bad guy.
   No one ever investigates afterward. Nobody gets put on administrative leave until it's determined the shooting was "righteous."
   No foreign government demands the U.S. answer for agents who shot up a whole neighborhood. If they even make a peep, someone, usually Henrietta, "handles" it. The question of whether all those deaths were warranted is ignored.
  The assumption is the good guys are the good guys, so they get to kill bad guys. Period.

The opposing arguments hold that indiscriminate killing sends the wrong message, in fact, a whole bunch of wrong messages.
   Shoot first and ask questions later.
   Anyone around a bad guy must be a bad guy, too.
   Death is the only/best punishment for those who hang around with bad guys.

It happens in books, too. Yesterday I finished Lee Child's newest, MAKE ME, and there's a lot of "kill 'em all and let God sort it out" mentality. Child makes his bad guys pretty bad, so the argument can be made that killing them is justified. We tend to like vigilantes when their practices "save the time and expense of a trial." So much for that Constitutional stuff about innocent until proven guilty.

I don't really have a side in this argument, as long as we're talking fiction, but the unfairness of it does flit through my head when I see/read such things. I'm more comfortable in STAR WARS, where the legions of soldiers shot, bludgeoned, and otherwise put out of commission are robots, not people with mothers, brothers, and even sons and daughters to mourn them.

Bang, bang, shoot-em-up is okay for entertainment, as long as we recognize that in real life, those things support the "eye for an eye" mentality that keeps violence going.  Maybe some people need killing, but that's not a task to be taken on lightly, even if you've got a badge, a mission, or what you consider a good reason.

What's the Deal with Subscriptions?

 I'll be honest. I know that the "deal" with subscriptions is guaranteed income for the entities that sell them. But if I were...