Tuesday, September 14, 2004

More on Meares

In one of the comments on a previous post, Steve Mertz mentions Leonard Meares and his very prolific career. In addition to 700+ Westerns, Meares wrote enough mysteries to bring his total output up to more than 800 books. I think the final count was either 814 or 822, I don't remember which. However, every Meares book I've seen (and I own several hundred of them) was very short, in the 35,000 to 40,000 word range. Len once mentioned to me in a letter that his manuscripts usually ran about 175 pages in manuscript. At that rate, two books per month is only 350 pages. Granted, that's still a lot of pages, and it's even more impressive when you realize that he maintained that pace, or close to it, for several decades. And a book is a book is a book, each one requiring its own plot and set of characters. Even in a series with continuing characters, like Larry and Stretch, for each book Meares created a whole new set of supporting characters, and there are usually quite a few of them. Many of the books have complex plots as well, with several different storylines intertwining and finally coming together just at the right place and time. That required fairly detailed outlines, as Len also told me. All in all, a heck of a lot of work. I don't know what his writing habits were, but I'd be willing to bet that he wrote nearly every day.

Me, I'm just poking along, worked a while today but had other things to do yesterday. Still reading Hickam's THE KEEPER'S SON, which is an excellent book so far.

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