Author Topic: I wanna be a crime writer!  (Read 3262 times)

Offline Jonathan_Harker

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I wanna be a crime writer!
« on: March 28, 2008, 08:30:42 AM »
I recently been watching the TV series: Dexter and it brought back lots of memories of reading the amazing Hannibal Lecter Trilogy ( I say Trilogy because I wasn't too impressed with Hannibal Rising) and how I used to dream of writing a similar kind of psychological crime thriller type novel based on the exploits of a suave, Giovanni-esque sociopath.

I gave up on the idea though when I realised how hard it is to write that kind of story without bordering on plagiarism. All the ideas I came up with, although they had good aspects, started to turn in to Hannibal Lecter or something that was too close. IMHO, I can see a lot of Hannibal in Dexter too... it's essentially the same character with much of the same background history(!) and character traits who took a slightly different path.

I guess I'm just in love with Thomas Harris' books. They're the only modern books I've ever read that are SO good that it actually tortures me that I didn't write them. Maybe it's just that Harris hit the nail so perfectly on the head that he's taken up all the good ideas.

What do you guys think? Have any of you been in a similar situation?

Offline SteveJ

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2008, 08:50:37 AM »
Harris is a good writer. I tend to read his books because the insight he gives into detection (specifically forensic detection, pyschological-profiling etc) is superb. And many of his characters are wonderfully 'drawn' (Will Graham, Clarice Starling, Crawford etc). But, in my view, Lecter cannot be taken seriously if he is meant to reflect a real-life serial killer; Anthony Hopkins rightly satirised Lecter's literally unbelievable persona, in the movies.

On the other hand, Harris' lesser-known work about terrorism ('Black Sunday') is marvellous.
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Offline girlbeastie

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2008, 09:00:37 AM »
The Hannibal Lecter tril has been my favorite for ages. I was obsessed with them for a very long time and just like you I had dreams of writing that perfect novel that could convey something similar. However, I was tripped up the same way! I don't think I could ever actually write something along the lines of what Harrison wrote without utterly copying his brilliance.

Offline Jonathan_Harker

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2008, 09:00:57 AM »
Very true that the personality of Lecter is not grounded in real life serial killers. You just have to look at the real life inspirations for our serial killer characters to see that even the smarter ones are more often than not; a little lacking upstairs. Sociopathy itself could be seen as a big a weakness as a strength; which was partly alluded to with Lecter although to a lesser extent.

I haven't read Black Monday yet. I must get around to it. I have high expectations of it if Harris' other early work is anything to go by. It's sad that he was pressurised in to writing Hannibal Rising which in my opinion comes across as remarkably half hearted.

Offline Jonathan_Harker

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2008, 09:10:12 AM »
Thanks for the input girlbeastie.

Good to know that I'm not alone.

I think I have to just forget it like I did before and accept the fact that I can't write what is already written ;)

Offline CollegeGuy

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2008, 12:41:44 PM »
Its not like the same idea hasn't been written twice...if it's what you want to persue then go for it! once you dive in im sure you can find things to change, plots to create, characters to develop, etc. etc.

There are so many books with the same plot that as long as you dont use the exact words you dont need to worry about plagurism!

I just started Dexter yesterday and i love it, so if you write like that be sure to let me know because I'd love to read it!

Point is, write it now, worry later. If it's any shade of decent, you'll do just fine 8)

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Offline thatollie

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2008, 12:50:59 PM »
Quote
Maybe it's just that Harris hit the nail so perfectly on the head that he's taken up all the good ideas.
No author EVER uses up all the good ideas. Sorry for intruding on your thread, I just thought that needed saying.
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Offline jojohnson

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2008, 01:33:06 PM »
I just want to say how much I am enjoying Dexter on the TV. Its probably the only series on at the moment that I absolutely have to watch (oh, that and the new series of Desperate Housewives....well we need some sort of trash to keep us going don't we!)

Offline HeidiC

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 10:28:10 AM »
I watched Dexter here when it was on - it was a great series and the book (I've only read the second) was a good read too. I think one of the characters in Silence of the lambs was based on Ed Gein along with a lot of other killers in horror films. I don't think it's plagerism if you take a plot line and do your own take on it. It's a great subject matter for an author as long as the characters are your own invention it should be nothing like you've watched or read before.

Offline Knucklesonthefloor

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2008, 03:37:07 PM »
Hi there, people... Am new here... This is my inaugural post... hopefully one of many?

Anyway.... Yep, re. Harris... Fantastic writer... Particularly Silence of the Lambs. He really hit his form, right on the jack, with that. I know it's a thriller and commercial ,etc, etc, but really that book is sooooo well thought out... Totally transcends its genre.

I think Stephen King notes that Silence took Harris 6-7 years to finish in his memoir "On Writing" and says something a bit sniffy about how this isn't particularly productive! In truth though it's such a tight, subtle book you can see where the time went.

So many clever turns (but never clever-clever)... I love the killer's name, Jame Gumb... Not quite James, not quite Jane... Brilliant... You can virtually hear the speech impediment coming out in Gumb, too.

And Clarice Starling is very, very well written.

As someone above mentioned Hannibal Rising didn't exactly light my candle either... Got the audio version as a free download and only managed about a third of it... That said, "listening" to fiction is a skill that is sadly underdeveloped in me.

I've not read the terrorist one but Harris' cannon breaks down like this for me;

1) Red Dragon - Brilliantly paced thriller. (A)
2) Silence of the Lambs - Genius. It's like RD was the test run and this the finished product. Definitely the book Harris will be remembered for. (A+++)
3) Hannibal - Silly, almost ludicrous... But still good fun. (B/B+)
4) Hannibal Rising - Jumped the shark!!

HeidiC - I reckon Harris was well aware of Gein when he wrote Lambs. I think he must have researched his subject thoroughly in the 6-7 years King snipes about (he is after all a former journalist)... I know for example that the scene where Buffalo Bill abducts a girl, tricking her into helping him lift furniture into his truck witn an arm sling to gain sympathy comes straight out of real life... Ted Bundy apparently used the very same technique on occasion... Of course, I too think it's fine for writers of fiction to borrow from real life (and even other fiction) provided they blend it in well... That's partly what being a craftsman is about.


KOTF.

Offline SteveJ

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2008, 03:46:04 PM »
Good analysis^  :) Welcome to the board :)

'Hannibal' is almost Harris' 'Baroque' or 'Mannerist' work - he's almost satirising himself, I feel.
I'm reminded of Conan Doyle writing Holmes stories when he no longer had the enthusiasm to do so.
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Offline Knucklesonthefloor

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2008, 04:00:20 PM »
Good analysis^  :) Welcome to the board :)

'Hannibal' is almost Harris' 'Baroque' or 'Mannerist' work - he's almost satirising himself, I feel.
I'm reminded of Conan Doyle writing Holmes stories when he no longer had the enthusiasm to do so.

Cheers, mate!

Yeah... Hannibal is OTT in pretty much every conceivable sense. Mason Verger is such a panto-villain (man eating pigs!!??) Even so, I still found it a really entertaining read... I hope (think?) Harris enjoyed himself writing some of the crazier scenes... he clearly loves his gothic history almost as much as Lecter.

KOTF

Offline SteveJ

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2008, 04:06:26 PM »
There's always somethig of interest in his books - even the lesser ones like 'Hannibal'; I really liked the stuff about the Memory Palace, and the Renaissance/Florentine history :)
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Offline Knucklesonthefloor

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2008, 04:42:40 PM »
Ha! I'd totally forgotten the memory palace! Yep... That was a nice touch... and something that's pretty fascinating in its own right.

Offline SteveJ

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Re: I wanna be a crime writer!
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2008, 04:46:39 PM »
Ha! I'd totally forgotten the memory palace!

How ironic! ;D ;D ;D
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