To begin at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive comparison of Connelly and Grisham. There will be plenty of writers/journalists out there who have already done this better than I can.
These are my thoughts and notes from a great interview with the two authors by the bookseller Waterstones, earlier this evening.
Connelly and Grisham have been writing for a similar length of time, around the thirty year mark. Both are bestseller authors.
Connelly writes novels with a number of repeating characters. Detective Harry Bosch is his mainstay, but then there is the Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller, journalist James McAvoy, and his latest detective Renee Ballard.
The majority of Grisham’s novels are stand alone, with only the recent ‘Camino’ stories being based on the same protagonist.
So, should you write serial characters as a new writer, or have a constantly refreshed cast? The success of both authors would seem to suggest its a tie on that score.
Connelly and Grisham both have work schedules which begin on January 1st.
They are both full-time writers and their writing habits reflect this.
Newer writers may have to work their writing in around other jobs, but there is a key point which is be disciplined. Whether you have all the time to write or practically no time, you have to sit down and write.
Connelly and Grisham both write in areas that they are very familiar with.
Connelly’s stories are very much based in Los Angeles and his previous career as a journalist covering crime clearly still has an influence on his work.
Grisham was a lawyer and most of his books are legal thrillers, with his latest ‘Camino’ books straying from that to a roguish bookseller.
I’m not a fan of the old adage ‘write what you know’, but both authors very much are of the opinion that you should write in areas which you are knowledgable.
What you know the best might not be your current career area. Your interest in sports or politics, cars or mental health, may be what you know best?
Whatever your key area of interest, make sure you keep up to date, read and watch everything you can find and look out for those story ideas.
Ploter or Pantser?
Connelly and Grisham both know what the end scenes are before they begin writing the first scene.
Grisham tends to be more heavily plotted than Connelly.
For you as a writer, plot or pants, but make sure you know where the end is before you start at the beginning.
Connelly and Grisham generally stay within their ‘genre’. Success probably has a part to play here, but they know the lay of the land and they find plenty of stories there.
Grisham has written non-fiction and sport-based stories.
As a writer you can jump around the genres but you will probably find more success in those areas of your knowledge and expertise.
Connelly and Grisham are both fans of Ian Rankin.
Connelly has had his Bosch stories made into a very successful Amazon TV series and a movie made of The Lincoln Lawyer.
Grisham has had a number of his books made into big movies, such as The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, and The Firm.
Both writers still see themselves as novelists and TV/Film are interesting side-tracks.
So what’s keeping you – get writing!
Connelly and Grisham could do with some competition!