Friday, May 18, 2007

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard recently talked to Duane Swierczynski of Philadelphia City Paper about Up in Honey's Room, Leonard's 41st novel.

Part of their exchange:

CP: Do you have an end point in mind [when writing a novel]? Or is it total improvisation?

EL: No, I'm always making it up as I go along. The first 100 pages seem to work, because I'm introducing characters, and we find out what their angle is. But then from 100 — and I always think of it that way, in three parts — but from 100 to 200 is when I have to do a little plotting. And I don't want the plot to be obvious. I want the reader to wonder what's going to happen and be surprised at what develops. Because now in that second act some of the secondary characters will get into action. And then, of course, the third act, in the past my manuscripts all run around 350-360 pages, around in there. So once I approach page 300, I have to start thinking of the ending. And there are always several different ways you can end it. I choose one that I like and just go for it.

CP: Have you ever had a situation where a character didn't want to … well, go anywhere?

EL: Yeah. And when I finish a book, and I wonder what they're doing now. They become so real to me — I know them better than I know some friends even. That's always important, of course — they've got to move the plot. But that's the fun of it. To make it up as you go along. I don't want to use a formula.

Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue