Sour Grapes and Robert Galbraith

I admit it, I’m envious of Robert Galbraith’s success. This is a writer who appeared out of nowhere, secured a publishing deal and has enjoyed huge sales for books that, judged by the precepts that wannabe writers are advised to stick to, should still be languishing in the slush pile.What is it about this guy?

If, as I have, you attend talks given by agents and publishing editors you will be told the basic rules that have to be followed if you want your manuscript to emerge into the light of publication. These include:

  • Write in properly constructed sentences.
  • Do not overuse adverbs.
  • Never use adverbs when attributing dialogue: ‘he said’, ‘she said’ is sufficient.
  • ‘Show don’t tell!’ In other words demonstrate characteristics, mood, tone etc. by showing how people are reacting to events or interacting with each other not by ‘tell’ statements. ‘Strike winced and rubbed his knee.’ is showing; ‘Strike was in pain from his knee (again).’ is not.
  • Don’t use obscure words when perfectly serviceable well-known ones will do.
  • Avoid clichés, especially where body parts are doing strange things. Eg. ‘Detective Sergeant Ekwensi then let her eyes stray around Strike’s glorified bedsit.

Robert Galbraith has chosen to ignore them. His prose is littered with what we are told are the literary no-no’s that doom a manuscript to never being more than that – a manuscript.

It makes you wonder what is it about him and his writing that saw his first book The Cuckoo’s Calling achieve not only publication but also bestselling status.

Follow the links to my Goodreads reviews of the second and third books in the Cormoran Strike series: The Silkworm and Career of Evil.


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Robert Ronsson

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10 2017

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