What I Learned About Writing from Reading Novels by: Catherine Coulter

Issue #12
Blog #9-2015
Section: What I Learned…
Blogger: Joseph Clay

Learning From Author CC-II

Split Second is the first book by Catherine Coulter I have read. This book is part of an ongoing series, like Flesh and Blood written by Patricia Cornwell.

Both are stand-alone stories that can be enjoyed separate without reading anymore of the series. This reiterates what I stated in the blog Learning from Author Patricia Cornwell.

However while reading Split Second I felt I was missing information on the main character Dillon Savich and his wife Lacey Sherlock.

Catherine Coulter’s writing style in Split Second showed me by example the following.

  • Plot and Sub-Plot: One of the subjects taught in writers class is plot and sub-plot, a book needs a both. Catherine Coulter does this to perfection in this book, and takes it a step further. The three different plots contain mystery, romance, and suspense while all being packed with action. They unfold early in the story and continue to the end.
  • Chapter formatting: There were times when two members of Savich team were investigation in one city, Sherlock and Savich in another and Carlyle yet in another, all on the same day. I thought giving the day along with location in a chapter heading a nice touch. I can see using this style when there is a lot of activity and different places.
  • Epilogue: Catherine Coulter closes the book out with an excellent epilogue, written the way one should. Newbies, like me, have a hard time with this along with Prologues. I use one of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing and never use a Prologue or introduction, I drop the needed back story in the novel. I do use Epilogues to tie up loose ends for the readers.
  • Series Bait: Drop back story to lead your readers to the other books in the series. To me this was pure genius. Split Second is a novel on its own. However to tease you to read the others she drops little back story lines to make you want to find out what has happened in an earlier writing. Example: ‘I wonder if Carlyle and McKnight are sleeping together like we did when we first met’, and ‘I rode in on my white horse and saved the day’, ‘more like your white boxers’ she replied. The one that hit me, ‘we would’ve never met if I hadn’t shot you in that alley’.

With any book you find things that stick out below are a few from this book.

  • Over use of words: ‘leeched’, ‘arty’. The words are fine, but unusual, which jumped off the page each time I read them. (Fix: Cut down in the use of unusual words)
  • First names that start with the same letter: I didn’t like the new character being named Lucy Carlyle when we already had a Lacey Sherlock, what makes it work, most law enforcement agencies call each other by last name. (Fix: Like I stated, this one worked in this book. Name all your charters in your story up front and try to avoid names that sound alike, have to many syllables, and/or begin with the same name. Remember, most readers don’t read whole words only bits, for this reason, you should stay away from giving characters names that start with the same letter.)
  • Unrealistic: Everybody drives an expensive car, a Porsche, Land Rover, and Corvette. The book explains that the new agents’ cars were gifts from their family, gives you a feeling that only rich kids should apply for the FBI. (Fix: It’s very seldom you run in to group of co-workers that all drive nice cars. Someone out of the bunch is driving a jalopy due to a divorce, gambling issue, and/or putting a child through college.)
  • Carrying a subplot to long: Towards the end of book, it gets a little irritating switching from one plot to the next to get them closed out. (Fix: Wind the sub-plots up, at least two chapters before the end of the book. Tie up the loose ends of the main plot in the epilogue.)
split-second
3 Stars out of 5

Book Review – Split Second

Other blogs in this category:

I hope you picked up a few pointers from my blog on what I learned from Catherine Coulter.

Till next time

-JC-.

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