Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects

Watching Sharp Objects on HBO is sure to be a treat. The only thing better is to read the book Sharp Objects by the amazing Gillian Flynn.

Watching Sharp Objects on HBO is sure to be a treat. The only thing better is to read the source material. The book Sharp Objects by the amazing Gillian Flynn. If you’re not convinced, keep in mind Flynn wrote Gone Girl and Dark Places. These two books were turned into stellar movies. Gone Girl was directed by Academy Award-Nominee David Fincher, starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Dark Places starred Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Drawing in that kind of star power speaks to the caliber of the book. There’s a saying- The book’s better than the movie. If this is true, then these books will be well worth the time to read.

Getting Drawn In

Let’s keep our focus on Sharp Objects. Flynn, a Missouri-native, is masterful at weaving intrigue and suspense without going overboard with her words. This is a rare skill. As many first-time authors can attest, being able to paint a picture with words is difficult. Authors will go on and on about mundane details, only to find they’ve lost the narrative, and worse, their readers. Flynn, on the other hand, has been able to keep the details to a minimum and keep a rich narrative. This leads to the Tetris Diametric: You want more lines in Tetris than you do on a page. When you stack up lines and clear them in Tetris you get more points. On a page the opposite is true; the more lines you have, the more your story disappears. The solution to this is finding the right amount of lines to tell the story with and still allow gaps. These gaps will allow the reader to bring in their own experiences, images, feelings, and make the story their own. It involves a delicate balance. From the first page, Flynn strives to find this balance and to make it work. It’s not always easy. Reread this book to help you nail this with your own writing.

Finding the Edge

Camille, though she’s hesitant, returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, MO. As a reporter, she’s there to follow the story of a little girl’s disappearance. There was another about six months previous. Camille isn’t hesitant because of the nature of the story, but because her mother is still living in Wind Gap. Having become estranged from her mother doesn't help matters either. The relationship never really did seem to be a good one, and with the death of her sister, Marian, it got worse. Showing up to this, Camille decides she’ll simply put her head down and get her job done. The sooner the better. The story doesn’t play out this way.


Sharp Objects and other books in this genre depend on the secrets characters keep from each other. If no one had secrets, it would be a very dull book. They also can’t give them away too easily. This brings up another important writing adage- Law Conservation of Detail. Details are important but there should only be as much as is necessary. By giving out a few details, it’s easy to hide secrets. This isn’t a guaranteed way to avoid getting in trouble with the law, but it works well in literature. Again, Flynn pulls this off by dropping details here and there, but not giving away the secrets. When done right, there's a surprise waiting at the end of the book. You can even go back, read, and find that indeed the information was there all along. Camille has her secrets and in keeping them they end up creating problems. These problems are made worse by other people’s secrets. When you build secrets on top of secrets and balance it with the right amount of detail, you can have a whirlwind story.


The best part of Sharp Objects is not the mystery, though that is what draws you in. The best part is Camille. Camille isn’t a perfect person. She’s flawed, wounded, and scarred. These traits would be nothing without her redeeming features. Camille has a hidden strength that many people have, only to think it’s not a strength, but another flaw. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Camille is what we can call a Determinator: She wants to solve the mystery or find the answer to a question, and nothing will stop her until she gets the solution. Camille’s not smooth, charismatic, or even awkward. She’s silent and still. This leads many of the other characters in the book to misjudge her and assume she’s scared. On the contrary, she’s figuring things out. It’s her personal demons that get in the way.

Worth the Read

It doesn’t matter how you read Sharp Objects, be on an eReader, an audiobook, or a real book, it’ll be worth the time. The best way, though usually overlooked, is to read it in plain ol’ paperback. The tactile sensation of a paper under your fingers, flipping the page, and getting to make notes in the margins are what set regular books apart from other mediums. This style of reading has been around for millennia and there’s not a compelling reason to get rid of it.
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