The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; A great read with an interesting structure

Brilliantly done.

This is a great read. I was pulled in from the first chapter by the mystery of who sent the flowers. Then it got less urgent, but still interesting. The big question for me was how the two starkly different characters; finical reporter, Mikael Blomkvist and investigative researcher, Lisbeth Salandar; were going to come together or not?

Nothing about this book was predictable. I was certain the two main storylines would not meet in the usually way, but would wind around and enlighten each other without the characters actually meeting. When they did meet, it was Fourth of July for me; all bets were off as to were it was going. I love when two contrasting characters are brought together by natural circumstances in the story.

Normally, when a book keeps going after what seems to be the big ending, I end up not liking it. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,”  has four endings. It works because the emotional story between the main characters is unresolved until the very last.  Plot wise the end is anti-climatic, but emotionally, it is couragous and heartbreaking.

Kudos must be given to the translator, Reg Keeland, because although there is no doubt in my mind  Stieg Larsson is a great writer, the translator didn’t muck it up. This is clear, concise and provoking English.

The audio book narrated by Simon Vance is well done. You learn the correct pronunciation of the Swedish words.  This is a good one to read, though.

For the writers.

“Dragon Tattoo,” is a study in both how to and how not to structure a story. There are three major plot lines and each one could carry a book on its own. When woven together like this, they make for a powerful novel that is hard to categorize.

Usually, a novel with this many big plots and sub-plots tears itself apart, but it works here because the emotional story of the characters is strong enough glue to keep it together . I recommand new writers study the structure, but don’t attempt it until you have a few novels under your belt. There is a caveat to that, if the story is insisting it be told with multiple big plots, than do it, but be very, very mindful.

What are your thoughts?

2 responses to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; A great read with an interesting structure”

    • Structure is a problem for everyone at one time or another and each story has it’s own challenges. Find a structure that makes sense to you and stick with it for that project. Then assess how well it worked. I currently like, “Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story,” by James Scott Bell. In the past I have used The Hero’s Journey, “A Story is a Promise,” “Backwards and Forwards.” Stephen King has some good stuff on structure in his book, “On Writing.” Studying other books in genre is the best guide. As I said, “Dragon Tattoo,” has an atypical structure. It is probably not one you want to copy. However, if you can see that it is an atypical structure, that is very good. Half the battle with structure is seeing it.


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