Belfast Telegraph

Rankin stumped over own debut novel

Novelist Ian Rankin has revealed he no longer understands some of the grandiose words he used in his first book.

The Scottish writer amassed a fortune through his books about DI John Rebus over the past quarter of a century.

But he tells the September edition of The Word magazine that his 1986 debut The Flood reads like the work of a "PhD student".

Rankin, who is taking a year's break from novels, said he since pared back the words he uses.

The novelist - who was working on his doctorate, later abandoned, when he began his literary career - said: "When I read my first novel now - Jesus, it's like the writing of a PhD student.

"There's words in it I don't actually understand. In thrillers, there is very little room for purple prose."

He said the trick with thrillers is to simplify the language.

"The style has got to be invisible. If something jars, or if a phrase is too flowery, suddenly the reader is aware that someone is writing a book."

Rankin also reveals he sees himself more as an entertainer than a wordsmith.

"Writers like me are part of the entertainment industry. We're not winning Nobel Prizes for books that are difficult to read or written in an ornate language."

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