Portrait of a Writer #2: Richard Castle

March 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

So: imagine you’re a writer. That is the easy part. Next, imagine you are researching a new novel. It’s going to be, say, a murder mystery set in New York. Your protagonist is a homicide detective and your novel is going to be full of police procedural details. Hard to research, right?

Next, imagine you are a best-selling author making millions of dollars from your books. (I know; it’s getting wild now).

And finally, imagine you are charming, witty, clever and look the spitting image of Nathan Fillion. You know everyone in New York, and everyone knows you.

You are… this guy.

Now, if only you had all those advantages, it’d be pretty easy to research a novel, right? You could, for example, use your connections with the Mayor to get permission to shadow a real homicide detective on the job. Wouldn’t it be even cooler if the detective happened to be glamorous, gorgeous, witty and the spitting image of Stana Katic?

Okay, so all of this is a tiny bit unrealistic. Hey,  it’s TV. We don’t need to ask how a homicide detective can afford a seemingly endless wardrobe of expensive designer clothes, right? The really great thing about Castle is that it’s a believable picture of the qualities a committed writer could bring to detective work. Kate Beckett’s all about the facts; logic; working her way through the case piece by piece. And that’s important. Castle’s approach is to think about what kind of a story would make sense. If the explanation Beckett’s arrived at is too simple to be true, he’ll come up with an alternative. Some of his theories are wildly wacky and very funny. Some of them are insightful and, once in a while, spot on. Not only does he gain plenty of material for his novels, he’s also able to contribute very effectively to the cases in hand.

I love Castle, because it is consistently funny, wry, and spot on with character and relationships. It’s a murder mystery series where the crimes are largely incidental to the ongoing story of the lives of Castle & Beckett, their regular assistants Ryan and Esposito, and Castle’s mother and daughter. It’s magnificently good storytelling throughout. What really intrigues me, though, is the portrait of the qualities that make Castle both a great writer and a great detective.

To close, here’s Castle advertising his latest book!

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I have a couple of recurring themes on this blog, one of which is to share particularly good portraits of writers in film, TV and fiction.

This is the second post in this series. The first covered Karen Eiffel, a character from the film Stranger than Fiction. Find the original post here.

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