03 May John Braine

…You may even risk a worse fate than rejection, which is not to finish the novel. Nothing diminishes more talent than unfinished work; nothing diminishes more the will to try again. Even rejection is preferable.

p. 117

A thriller won’t be a thriller if it concerns itself about credibility. That is, as far as the story is concerned. The details, the background, the timetable, must be meticulously planned. We don’t want to be told; we want to be shown exactly. We want to know abou t the kind of gun, the kind of knife, the meals eaten, the journeys taken the physical appearance of every character. We don’t want ever to be in doubt as tto when anything happened; part of the pleasrure, as for example in Frederick Forsyth’s The day of the Jackal, is to be told the day, the date, and the hours. And we want real cities and towns and villages, real hotels and shops and public places; we’re oing nto put ourselves into the hero’s shoes; we’re reading for escape, and to use places that we have visited ourselves or are able to visit makes that escape authentic, augments the fantasy.

p. 121

The best way to put it is this: If the reader is dissatisfied, if he hasn’t been told about something he wanted to be told about, if the narrative has caused him to ask a question which hasn’t been answered, then this is due to a deficiency in craftsmanship-or rather, as I have said, simply to laziness. And I’m somehow sure that the writer is always aware when he’s been guilty of this offence. His instincts, if he really is a novelist, tell him that he should write the scene in question; but such scenes always present a problem… the problem is how to make them readable, how to keep the impact of the story.