Michael Crichton’s Top 5 Writing Lessons

Cover of "Jurassic Park"
Cover of Jurassic Park

Karen Dionne (author of Freezing Point) reveals to Writer’s Digest what she learned about fiction from her literary idol Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park, Congo, and creator of TV’s ER).

1. CHALLENGE YOUR READER. Don’t be afraid to tackle complex topics such as quantum physics or manipulating the genetic code. Readers love learning something new. Stirring their curiosity is just as important as grabbing them from the first page.

2. SURPRISE YOUR READER. No one reading The Andromeda Strain could have guessed the ending. Novels should be novel. Unpredictability is key.

3. KEEP THE CLOCK TICKING. Timing, tension, momentum, pace—Crichton set the bar. A pounding heart keeps the reader reading.

4. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. Whether the details pertain to science, history or setting, readers expect your research to be accurate.

5. PLAY FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE FACTS. Story trumps all. Crichton’s gift was making the impossible believable. Everyone knows that dinosaurs can’t be cloned from fossilized DNA, but if they could …

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