If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Creating A Short Story

It starts with a flash. I hear a voice or see a character. This is usually indicative of a schizophrenic bout, but in my case, it means I’m creating a short story or the first scene in a novel.

The concept can be my own or if there is a call for a particular theme from an editor/publisher, given. A given concept can be anything from holidays or settings, a picture or feeling, an experience, but I’ve found that publishers stay away from specifics so that writers can apply the concept within their own genre and subgenres. With or without a concept, a flash in the form of a voice or character presents itself. I usually have an idea or two already floating around in my head. But without relating it to a conceptual framework, it has no shape.

Crime, my framework, leads to a question. When I first hear or see a character, I ask if the character a predator or is a victim. To determine this, I must visualize the character, which means listening to that voice and attaching physical characteristics to it, age, sex, physique, the look in their eyes. If I have a visual of the character, I have to make them speak, which, like the eyes, gives me a feel for their soul. Sometimes, the character is both predator and victim, a real situation in the world. The big fish eats the little fish and the little fish eats a smaller fish, etc. Yes, it’s a basic, base question starting on an animalistic level. The strong conquer the weak. It’s survival. When I feel a character, I assess the character’s intelligence and personality because in humans, physical weakness isn’t necessarily the determining factor.

If the character is a predator, I ask what type of crime the he or she would commit. If the character is a victim, I ask to what crime the character would succumb. To make this determination, I have to provide more character details, such as socioeconomic status, profession, demeanor, level of success, personality, disabilities. Is she a killer, or an embezzler? Once I determine the crime, then I relate the character and crime to the concept, and the plot follows given whatever theme I’ve created or been prescribed.     

In short, I start with characters and then develop the plot given the characters’ traits.

How do you start writing, and how do you create characters?


Barb Goffman said...

Wow, what an analytical approach. I tend to be that way in life, but not in my writing. I usually just hear a voice and a plot often - though, unfortunately not always - follows.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, for me it all begins with character also. I have to know my protagonist's character, first of all. When I know her/him well enough that I can hear that voice, then I'm ready to write. As I write, I learn more about other characters, and as I learn more about other characters, I understand more of the plot. That's the way it works for me.

Anita Page said...

EB, often a newspaper article or an item in the police blotter spark an idea. A couple of years ago, I read about a woman who only learned how rich her ex-husband was when she saw him interviewed on TV. My story "Kiss It Goodbye," which recently ran in Beat to a Pulp, took off from that idea. The characters and events in the story are fictitious, of course.

E. B. Davis said...

We start the same way, Barb, but I go further on character. Characters have history, something there that will lead me to a plot. The plot can't come first, if for some reason it does, the character is already there waiting within it.

E. B. Davis said...

Interesting, Linda. I'm not ready to write as soon as you are. I guess when I've tried to be a pantser, I've gotten stuck so I wait until the plot comes to me, and then I develop both together, then I start to write.

With me, the funny thing is that I can get the sequence of events out of order. I often think my last sentence is my first. So, at least I know where I'm going. But it also maybe that I think you should foreshadow or at least give your readers clues to where the story will lead.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, I find real events often provide the catalyst for my fiction, Anita. I have to write them down immediately when something sparks my interest. But, I still need that character to lead the story.

Hatteras Island recently had a murder occur, which is a rarity. Some guy from Ohio and his girlfriend with her two children came on vacation. She went missing. He reported her missing, and then drove the kids back to her parents (which was the nicest part of the whole thing). Her body was found on land, which was being developed as a new neighborhood, but with the stalled housing market was left mostly vacant. She had been strangled. Wonder who did it? Wonder if the guy is still in the U.S.?

Warren Bull said...

It is easiest when a character reveals an ending to me, but I've started with a scene or a phrase. Then I had to dig for the rest like an archeologist at a site.