Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Patterson’s Elves

THE TIMES of London ran a piece on the working methods of novelist James Patterson, showing that his high-turnover fiction output is largely a result of his farming out the production work to hired-gun collaborators.

Patterson is renowned for his “golden gut”, an instinct for what will and won’t work in a story. When (Maxine) Paetro receives the final outline, conceived by Patterson and worked on by her, she fleshes it out into a manuscript, which will become a 400-page book, and hands it over to him. “And it’s his book,” she says. “He runs with it from there, although he won’t usually make big changes.”

In one sense, Patterson is living every writer’s dream – to have the thoughts but somehow dodge the slog of realising them. But most writers will concede that, however inconveniently, it’s in the slog of the realising that much of the real writing takes place.

2 responses to “Patterson’s Elves”

  1. Hmm, worked in a bookshop for five years, and never knew that.

    I remember being obscurely disappointed upon finding out Jim Davies farmed out later ‘Garfield’ strips as well, I know it’s not high art, but there are standards….

  2. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me gets all high-horse but then a little voice at the back of my head says, come on, it’s just commerce… Dumas did it, Leslie Charteris did it, half the stuff you loved reading as a kid was probably generated by some syndicate or another.

    When the voice gets a bit shrill I know it’s time to increase the medication.