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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Writing advice from George Pelecanos

If George Pelecanos gives advice on writing, I'm on it. I'll take every word and tattoo it into my brain. Pelecanos doesn't need to say a lot about writing, because his advice, like his stories, gets right to the essence, like a stiletto into the heart. Hear is a some advice that he put into one of his books, Shame the Devil (2000), which I'm reading as my holiday treat. The advice is given by a surprising source, a cold-blooded killer, Frank Farrow, who, only 35 pages earlier, had executed four men, killed a cop and run over a five year-old boy.

"He had enjoyed the man's book but felt in the end that the writer had been holding back, had not gone far enough into that black rotted place that surely would have existed in his lead character's mind.

In the end, the writer had been afraid. In general, thought Farrow, that was the flaw in most people, a timidity that separated them from those who were strong. They used their idea of Goodness and Love as an excuse for living a life of weakness. People were afraid to go to that black place and use it when the time came, or even admit that it was there."

Shame the Devil, George Pelecanos, Dell, 2000., page 61.


  1. Kevin R. Tipple said...

    I have to admit I have never read him. Please don't hate me.

  2. Mark said...

    You'll like him. Try one. Any one.

  3. Helen Ginger said...

    Good advice. And it doesn't necessarily mean going deep into the mind of the bad guy. Agents sometimes say they're tired of being in the heads of serial killers. You can show the depth of the killer sometimes without even going into his head. He speaks his evil through his actions.