Tag Archives: characterization

What We Write About When We Write

What we write about when we write.

Please, please take the time to read this wonderful article (click the link above). It explores the agony of creation, the search for the perfect telling of the story, the revisiting of person, place and thing for the sake of getting it right.

Once I concluded my reading of it, I was revived to write. I realized that the wall I am hitting in my work is simply a part of the greater process. Now I embrace the wall, wrapping my arms around it, pressing my chest against its coolness, smelling the stale scents trapped in the paint. By entangling my essence with what stops my writing, I change both the obstacle and my response to it.

People that I Meet

About a week ago, I was reading Coco Ginger’s blog, specifically her post about her French press. In the post she referenced treating every guy she meets as a potential character in her next story.

That sentiment hit me like a sledge-hammer:  I, too, look at people I meet as candidates for characters. How dreadful. How delightful. It is a conundrum.

How about you? Are you eyeing up acquaintances, family and friends — and dreadful bosses — as novel fodder?



Funny I should read this post on Stadler Style today. When my segment to the Story Circle gets published later today on http://camerondgarriepy.com/2012/06/28/the-story-circle-the-reunion-part-four/ , the twist in the story comes from exactly this kind of experience. A revelation between friends that was never expected.

A special thanks to Stadler Style for giving us a lesson in improving the depth of a character.

How To Write a Mystery Novel

Once again, thanks to the insight of professional writer Brad Geagley. He shares how-to  advice for the aspiring novelist. His “How To Write a Mystery Novel” can be read in entirety here: http://bradgeagley.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/how-to-write-a-mystery-novel-2/

This excerpt intrigued me. Hope you find the information helpful as you write:

I like it best when a detective is a flawed man, like my poor, alcoholic Semerket, so that in addition to solving the mystery at hand he must also solve part of the mystery within himself. Like the protagonists in Martin Cruz Smith novels, they also become the seat of moral authority.  All around them are crimes, official corruption, and indifference, but they remain committed to the truth, regardless of how unpleasant it is.  No matter how dark or dismal they are, they become heroic in the process – and your readers root for their success.

In my novel, I’ve done something right — my detective is flawed, committed to truth, and, at moments, heroic. My detective is a she.  To me, that makes character development more challenging; male mystery readers I know prefer male lead characters. I am determined to snag one male fan from my circle of acquaintance for my female character. More on that another day.

Dialogue – Speaking Directly

What does one do with rainy miserable weather on a weekend? Read a book.

A friend loaned me a book more than a year ago. It is a first edition book from his personal library, so I placed it beside the bed to read. Other books were recommended or given to me later and also tidily stacked. I kept my friend’s book on top of the pile. I wanted to take care of it. I also wanted to read it first, when the spare hours presented themselves. Finally, a rainy weekend arrived with weather too cold for other activities.  So, out came the book I’d preserved for this chance.

It is a wonder full (yes, that is exactly what I meant to say) book, lyrically and imaginatively written.  I cannot speed read through this book. There is too much wordsmithing to miss a single turn of phrase. It is an old book (1983) written in a style that is non-existent in the realm of Elmore Leonard-molded authors. It is other worldly thus far, so I assume that deserves the stained-glass word window the author painstakingly puts together a piece at a time.

The title is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin.

Do you remember a couple of posts back I confessed my sin of communicating in a very direct manner? In Helprin’s book, I found a segment of dialogue that made me giggle because the character is like me. He doesn’t want to beat around the bush, but urges the other character to get to the point. I also happen to think it is well done dialogue, so will share a snippet of it here. I hope you enjoy it.

    “You know what?” said Issac Penn.


     “You look like a crook. Who are you, what do you do, what is your relationship to Beverly, are you aware of her special condition, and what are your motivations, intentions, and desires? Tell the absolute truth, don’t elaborate, stop if a child or servant comes in, and be brief.”

     “How can I be brief? These are complicated questions.”

     “You can be brief. If you were one of my journalists, you’d be finished by now. God created the world in six days. Ape him.”

     “I’ll try.”


     “All right.”


I will admit that real-life conversation with someone that “direct” feels like an interrogation.  Yes, I get it.

Visiting the Blog Cabin

Author Timothy Hallinan writes and teaches. He has kindly offered words of wisdom to me in the past and encouraged my dream. He has been my modern day pen pal via the Internet.

He loves to share wisdom; he shares his own and that of other professional writers who have success scars from a bruising ascent. He offers insights on a web site called “The Blog Cabin.”

On March 27th, Hallinan posted an interview with author Jean Henry Mead, a national award-winning photojournalist. Mead has written 17 books in all.

Her recent work is The Mystery Writers, Interviews and Advice. It features interviews with 60 mystery writers, many of them best-selling authors.

Hallinan asked Mead:

As a writer yourself, are there any answers that you’ve found especially helpful?In my latest book, The Mystery Writers, there are many articles of writing advice that I wish had been available when I first attempted to write fiction during in the early 1990s. Most of the authors agreed that persistence is more important than writing talent and that outlining is the best way to begin a novel, although most of them don’t. That characterization trumps plot and humor is a necessary element in even the darkest noir, among many other great gems of advice.

Check out this interview and others at http://www.timothyhallinan.com/blog/?p=5835#more-5835