“Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp.
For those of you not familiar, this is the novel that the film Die Hard was based on and that did not happen by accident. The book plot is essentially identical to the film with one or two very minor tweaks (the terrorists are genuine left wing extremists rather than masquerading as such, the company in question is a corrupt oil conglomerate that has done some pretty questionable things in South America as opposed to a mainly benevolent Japanese company).
Roderick Thorp wanted this story to be put on the screen and it shows throughout the novel. It is a fun novel by itself but what is more interesting is how he had this in mind when writing it. He wanted this to be made into a film from day one and had even gone as far as to consider who he wanted in the main roles – and wrote accordingly.
The action set pieces are described in such detail it was giving it to Hollywood on a silver platter. No scene in it would be difficult to film and the dialogue is simple enough to almost copy and paste into a script. Likewise, the tempo of the book is very much like an action film, more so than any I have ever read.
What can be learned from this story to improve your own writing?
If you have a clear idea of what you want your book to be, you can gear yourself towards it. What do you want this story to be?
- If it is a stand alone novel you have no desire to turn into a franchise or the like, then there is no point having dozens of half developed plot threads as they will never be resolved.
- If this story is going to be the beginning of an eight book franchise, you can (to an extent) take a bit more time with it, really lay the foundations of an epic. You don’t need to rush, there are other books to come which can expand on other points. Don’t be too slow or you will lose the reader but likewise there is no rush.
- If this book is meant to be more of a cheap, pulpy thrill, don’t hesitate to include some of the archetypes common to the genre, don’t agonise over this if it is meant to be more of a guilty pleasure.
- If it is meant to be a great piece of literature, the next great British novel, then be prepared to spend years on it.
If you know what you want your story to be, the purpose it fills in your portfolio of work, then you can go for it and ensure that objective is fulfilled. How can you achieve a goal when you don’t even know what it is?