The Novel Commandments #3

Here's a third law of novels: It has to be OVER THE TOP.

The reason I think that novels don’t surprise me anymore is that they come so evenly measured out, so finely calculated, each sentence carefully weighed, each sentiment simply… correct. And predictable. I pick up some of these books, read three sentences and I want to run into traffic.

In TV, of course, it's different. Growing up in the 70's wasteland of Starsky and Hutch, I never thought I would say this, but the most daring fiction being written today is in TV. The standards for "over the top" fiction have been set by The Shield (shoots his partner in the first episode!), 24 (who was it that once said, "If you show an atom bomb hanging on the wall in the first chapter, it has to come down off the wall before the story is over"?), and in comedy South Park, The Simpsons, Seinfeld and of course The Office.

You can do that in television, you can’t do that in novels.

That's Commandment #3: If I'm going to write a novel, it has to be over-the-top.


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