Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
The other night I watched a novelist’s TV interview on a crime novel he had written. John Banville is a respected Irish novelist, known for the literary quality of his work. But he decided to try his hand at resurrecting a famous protagonist, Raymond Chandler’s private investigator, Philip Marlowe. I guess we could call this the height of fan fiction.
Here’s how Banville, who chose the pen name of Benjamin Black for the novel, The Black-eyed Blonde, described his two styles. He generally writes like a mole, clawing his way through each writing detail, not sure where the story will go, and fussing over any sentence that needs work before moving forward. But with the crime novel, he wrote like a tightrope walker; the goal was just to keep going, not to look back or down, to make it to the end–which was a fixed point, to write fast and not to worry about individual sentences.
That an established author would take up the challenge of writing a story centered on a character well-loved by noir crime readers is fascinating in and of itself. But the way he talked about his styles set my mind to racing with questions. I’d like to hear your responses to the queries that occurred to me and any other thoughts you have from this fascinating look into one writer’s mind.
- Do you relate to Banville’s dual writing styles? Have you observed the same is true for you?
- Would you describe yourself as a mole or a tightrope walker?
- Do other images fit your writing style better than the ones Banville suggested?
- When you consider the difference between literary writing and crime novels, do his dual personalities make sense?
- Do you think his decision was a smart career move or a disastrous choice? Why?
Can a writer’s style change on demand? Click to tweet.
What is your writing style? Click to tweet.