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

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Monday, June 17, 2019

Birthing a Character

Birthing a Character by Debra H. Goldstein

Characters don’t spring full-grown onto the page. Instead, like a child (or for pet-lovers – an animal), each must be conceived and nurtured during an internal growth period before being introduced to the world.

There are numerous forms of conception used by authors. Sometimes a family member, friend, or someone simply observed casually passing triggers the idea for a character. Occasionally, a word or understanding of the type of individual who might be involved with the plot the author has in mind is the impetus for creation. Once the first seed is planted, the author fleshes out the different aspects of the proposed character. Humans and animals have more limited mechanisms to conceive a character – Google them.

At some point, the human or animal embryo develops arms, legs, hair, and other physical attributes that will be obvious at birth. The author has a clean slate to steal from living or fictional individuals or to simply mix and match physical characteristics and emotional traits as the author deems appropriate to the story. Consequently, the character may be deaf and blind like Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, have a single eye like Cyclops, be on the heavy side with a wonderful mustache like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, or be a Peter Pan boy-like sprite.

Many authors write detailed backstory outlines for their characters while others simply let the voices they hear in their heads (which they attribute to the characters) dictate character behavior and development. As they write their stories, they nurture their characters in different environmental settings and have consequences arise from interaction with other characters. Animals and humans can be influenced by their physical and emotional environments, but unlike authors can’t change the end results by hitting delete.

Perhaps the one thing I believe most distinguishes successful characters and books from those that
don’t resonate with readers is when it is obvious an author became engaged with the characters. In those instances, there is a link of love that comes across even with the antagonist. Louise Penny’s books offer good examples of this phenomenon. Reading her entire series, one can see how she relates to her characters and works hard to give them room for growth while respectfully nurturing each character’s individuality.

I tried to use these concepts when I created the Sarah Blair series. My initial thought was I wanted a cozy protagonist adverse to cooking and crafts. The conceptual idea was the difference between my sister’s and my abilities in the kitchen and our physical attributes – night and day. I didn’t initially create a detailed backstory for Sarah or any of the other characters. Instead, I listened to their voices. This was problematic when I ignored them. The book stalled until I realized I was trying to make the wrong character the antagonist. When I listened, I rewrote half of One Taste Too Many and fell in love with every character. I was engaged and eager to know what would happen next. Hopefully, readers will pre-order or purchase Two Bites Too Many (https://www.amazon.com/Bites-Many-Sarah-Blair-Mystery/dp/1496719484) because they, too, are engaged.

As for a final comparison between fiction and life, I am convinced the same rules of engagement hold true from the minute of birth.


Jim Jackson said...

I am a permissive parent to my fictional characters: I let them mostly do what they want. It makes life difficult sometimes because what I thought I knew about them isn’t always what they want. This is why even when I try to plot, I’m lousy at it.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I respect my fictional characters, but find they need an inspirational pep talk from time. Congratulations, Grandma!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Jim, I know what you mean. I'm a better pantser than plotter. As I'm writing from an outline, I feel confined and either discover the characters want to go in a different direction or a new character may appear. Margaret - they give me the pep talks because they want their stories to reach a climax and an ending. Thanks for the congrats.

Liz Boeger said...

I've recently revisited the timeline in my proposed series at the insistence of my characters. My original Book 1 is now Book 2 so that I can properly introduce my MC and her husband to be. He told me that by making them a long married pair in the original story I neglected to show who he was and why he needed a larger presence in my MC's life. So, I finally listened and am having a fantastic time discovering how they will come together while solving a murder. So, I suppose my mother was wrong to tell me not to listen to the voices in my head.

KM Rockwood said...

Ah, yes. For many of us, our characters rule. I may think I'm writing fiction, but sometimes I feel like a stenographer, not an author, merely recording what my characters tell me they are doing.

Enjoy the new grandbaby!

Grace Topping said...

I'm always amazed how my characters just spring to mind. When I need a character, I just plunk one in and let it take off. I have more trouble naming them than creating them.