Posts Tagged ‘Scott Turow’

“People who succeed in the arts most often are the people who get up again after getting knocked down. Persistence is critical.”
Scott Turow

“I used to write on the morning commuter train. It was sometimes no more than a paragraph a day, but it kept the candle burning.”
Scott Turow

It took Scott Turow a “six to seven year period” to write his first published novel Presumed Innocent. But if that alone doesn’t show his persistence, he had written four unpublished novels before that. Though he was a practicing lawyer and had published a memoir (One L), his childhood dream of being a novelist wasn’t faring so well. In an interview with Jason Boog, Turow said, “My life as a writer was carried on against the odds… as a writer of fiction I hadn’t gotten very far.”

Presumed Innocent
was published in 1987 and he has now had eight fiction books published (along with two non-fiction books) and has sold more than 25 million books.

“There have always been books about trials going back to the trial of Socrates, or the Merchant of Venice, or Billy Budd. But Presumed Innocent depended upon a change in public attitude: lawyers were no longer idealized figures.

The overwhelmingly successful trial book of my early adolescence had been To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus Finch is so perfect it’s beyond belief. He’s a widower caring in a loving fashion for two wonderful children. He is a man of courage, principle, deep intellect – and the best shot in the county!

Presumed Innocent challenged that view of lawyers. I wrote it saying to myself: ‘To hell with Perry Mason, I’m gonna show it as it is.’ It turned out people were intensely curious about what actually goes on in courtrooms, and that Americans were deeply interested in law.”
Scott Turow
Interview with Robert McCrum

It would be interesting to compare courtroom dramas before the movies The Verdict (1982) and Presumed Innocent (1990) with courtroom films and TV programs of the last 20 years.

Scott W. Smith

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“The ‘if-I-had-time’ lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born—without the luxury of time. Lawyer Scott Turow wrote his riveting novel Presumed Innocent* on his daily commuter train.”
Julia Cameron
The Right to Write
page 14

*The 1990 movie Presumed Innocent starring Harrison Ford was based on Turow’s international best-selling book with the screenplay being written by Frank Pierson and Alan J. Pakula. According to Box Office Mojo it made $221,303,188. worldwide. It’s probably worth mentioning that before Turow got on that commuter train he had graduated from not only Harvard Law School but had a Master’s in Creative Writing from Stanford University. He has written a total of eight books, has a website,  and is currently a partner at Sonnernschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago.

Update: Just read where Turow studied with Pulitzer-Prize winning author Wallace Stegner, the founder of the writing program at Stanford. Because I can’t seem to escape this theme, Stegner was born in Lake Mills, Iowa and educated (master’s degree, doctorate) at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. More on Turow & Stegner in coming days.

Related posts: The Breakfast Club for Writers
Filmmaking Quote of the Day #4 (Will Smith)
Beatles, Cody, King & 10,000 Hours
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic (tip#2)
Screenwriting from Massachusetts
Screenwriting da Chicago Way

Scott W. Smith


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