Blogs by Ed P Zaruk
Lessons from Clive Cussler
12/29/2009 9:07:08 AM
A personal observation of Cussler's writing
Clive Cussler in our opinion is the master of the prologue. He uses it to relate an event upon which his novel is based. Vixen 09 is a perfect example. Major Vylander is forced to make an emergency landing on a snow-covered, alpine meadow in the Rocky Mountains. After the plane rolls to a stop there is a sharp cracking noise, followed by blackness. Later in the book, cargo salvaged from the plane hidden for years on the bottom of a lake, creates the drama that Cussler is so noted for. Too often authors will use a prologue to tell some back story, or a flashback that could easily have been incorporated into the opening chapter. In my opinion, prologue material should not be discernable until the story is well developed. To do otherwise ruins the suspense.
Clive Cussler grew on us slowly. I think the first book we read was about a ship frozen in an iceberg. By the time Vixen 03 came out two books later, we were hooked on the man who would become the Grand Master of the American Action Adventure novel. Iíd like to mention something that happened to Cussler that I donít see much of today. Not everyone will agree, but in our opinion Cusslerís first two or three books werenít all that great, yet publishers were willing to keep printing his stories. We consider Vixen 03 his first good book and from there they only got better.
Pyramid Books released his first novel, The Mediterranean Caper in 1973. Although not a block buster, it had enough promise that Don Meade and Company signed him for Iceberg two years later. Raise the Titanic, released in 1976, was a product of Viking Press, as was Vixen 03. Bantam did Night Probe, then in 1984, nine years after his first novel, Simon & Schuster became his publisher and still are to this day. We have moved away from the time when publishers would carry an author with promise through a few books, allowing him time to mature and gain an audience.
Money and shareholders now drive the industry and everyone is looking for the next Harry Potter or Da Vinci Code. Eight out of ten books published will not pay off their advances. Many of these authors find this a dead end. Iím not saying this didnít happen years ago, but in todayís market one should be aware of the risks. My advice, if youíre writing solely to be published or for fame and money, donít quit your day job. Write from the heart. Write for your friends. Write for self-fulfilment. Passion is a much greater motivator than money.
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More Blogs by Ed P Zaruk
Active vs Passive voice - Monday, March 08, 2010
Lessons from Clive Cussler - Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thriller Writers I Read - Friday, October 23, 2009
Thriller Writers I Read - Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thriller Writers I Read - Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Thriller writers I read - Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thriller writers I read - Friday, April 10, 2009
The Value of Womens Fiction - Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What is Good Writing? - Saturday, February 21, 2009