I’m currently reading The Reckoning by John Grisham.
Clearly, no one has ever told him to Show not Tell. John Grisham is the master of telling, and I mean TELLING a story. He has a vast narrative distance, never walks us beside a character when he can just tell us, and rarely makes us feel for a character.
And yet it works.
Originally, I thought it was because his characters were nasty and lawyers and since everyone hates lawyers, he found his niche. Then he started writing about non-lawyers who were often nasty, and yet many who weren’t.
My favorite Grisham novel is still his first, A Time to Kill, which I think had more passion, but I’ve enjoyed all of them. Largely because he plots in the micro and macro very well.
This, however, is not a book review. It’s about how he tells a story his way and makes it work.
YOU can relate a story your way and make it work.
Yet there are some non-negotiables. Accurate grammar and spelling and punctuation everywhere except in dialog and maybe if you’re first person narrating, but even then vernacular speech should be weighed carefully and in small measure. Struggling to understand what’s being said gets old fast.
Everything else is up for grabs. Linear or non-linear? Yes. Truthful narration or false narration? Yes. Flashbacks? Dream sequences? Sure, why not? Take a rule and break it? Yes if you know what the rule is.
Find your own unique angle. It may become your signature.
One thought on “when he tells a story… he TELLS a story!”
I love Grisham, too. I think I need to put him on my summer reading list. Thanks for encouraging us to break the rules!