Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Erle Stanley Gardner’s method

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Mar• 20•14

 Erle Stanely Gardner was a lawyer although he was admitted to the bar without attending law school, and a prolific novelist and short story writer. He’s most famous for his character Perry Mason, who along with Della Street, Paul Drake and Hamilton Burger became household names in the 1960s.

 “Murder is not perpetrated in a vacuum. It is a product of greed, avarice, hate, revenge, or perhaps fear. As a splashing stone sends ripples to the farthest edges of the pond, murder affects the lives of many people.” (from The Case of the Horrified Heirs, 1964)

 In one of Erle Stanley Gardner’s notebooks he jotted the following reminders:

“Work on every plot until you have

1. Unusual opening incident

2. Complete character conflicts

3. Some emotional appeal

4. Some unusual slant of characters and situation

5. All stock situations eliminated

Make a genuine reader suspense in which he doesn’t know what will happen next and surprised either by

(a) What does happen

(b) the way in which it happens.”

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

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