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In Cold Blood
CAPOTE’S MOTIVES AND STYLES IN IN COLD BLOOD
Many writers traditionally use their imagination to fabricate an interesting yet fictional story. Only their creativity and vision limit their writing. They can afford to neglect minor details because they do not base their stories on factual information. There existed a period when this was the only practiced style when writing a novel. However, Truman Capote pioneered the “nonfiction novel”, as he called it, when he undertook the writing of In Cold Blood. His book described the well-known murders of the Clutters, a model American family. Due to the fact that Capote was writing a factual account of the crime, he thought it necessary to make his novel correct in even the smallest details. This proved to be a very difficult project, but his perseverance paid off. Capote made use of many literary techniques in order to grab the interest of his readers. He wanted his novel to be more than just a newspaper description of the crime. Finally, In Cold Blood was a great success because it told a true story in an interesting way. Capote overcame a big milestone by discovering a way to write a nonfiction novel, which appealed to everyone.
First, Capote knew that he was creating a new art form when he wrote his greatest work, In Cold Blood. He was a writer for the New Yorker, which gave
him good practice in gathering important facts It took him six years to complete this book because that is the amount of time that passed from the time the Clutters were murdered to the time the criminals were put to death. Truman Capote wanted his novel to be as close to the true facts as possible. He painstakingly gathered information from Holocomb, Kansas, the site of the murders, and various other settings. In reference to Capote’s obsession for accuracy, Gerald Clark wrote
In Cold Blood may have been written like a novel, but it is accurate
to the smallest detail, “immaculately factual” Truman publicly boasted.
Although it has no footnotes, he could point out to an obvious source
for every remark uttered and every thought expressed. “One doesn’t
spend almost six years on a book, the point of which is factual accuracy,
and then give way to minor distortions.”(358)
Because Truman had to devote much of his time to the research and writing of this novel, he wanted to be thorough. He was so proud of his work that he dubbed his book “immaculately factual”, which implied that the thought his novel to be flawless. Gerald Clarke wrote the following about Capote’s self-assuredness
In October, 1964, Truman went back to Kansas, taking with him
Sandy Campbell who was a fact checker at the New Yorker,
assigned at Truman’s request, to check the accuracy of In Cold Blood
They first flew to Denver where Truman had arranged a party
for some of his Garden City friends, most notably the Deweys.
They drove east to Garden City where Sandy verified such things
as dates and distances. Sandy said that she had worked with many
New Yorker writers, but Truman was the most accurate.(351)
Capote knew that his novel was correct but had someone check its accuracy as a way of boasting. Many people retraced Capote’s steps trying to find a mistake. However, no errors of any substance were ever uncovered. During the six years of research, Capote spent a lot of his time around the people involved with the murders in order to gain more insight. Moreover, he wanted to portray the characters as they really are. Capote was bragging yet again when he introduced Sandy Campbell to the Deweys. Capote wanted Sandy to see that his novel correctly depicted the actual characters. Granville Hicks wrote the following in reference to Truman Capote’s brilliant novel
Capote, by an elaborate process of checking and cross-checking,
has probably come as close to the facts as is humanly possible.
However, it is not the gathering of data that counts, impressive
as that is, but the organization of this massive amount of material.(37)
Due to his endless devotion to his novel, Capote was willing to double check himself to insure that his information was faultless. Truman took his work to a higher level by devising a unique and intriguing way to present this horrific murder.
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