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


July Interviews













7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets


Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson

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Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!


Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


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


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


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Sunday, August 2, 2020

On Character by Keenan Powell


“Simplicity is the essence of elegance, and the more we can ground complexity in a clear, coherent simplicity, the more our efforts, as they become more intricate, can hope to retain the elegance of truth.” – David Corbett, The Compass of Character

I have a new book premise. It’s been floating around in the back of my head for a few months. I set up the white board, wrote a log line, bought color-coded stickies, wrote snippets for the scenes flashing through my head on the stickies, and arranged them on the white board. I wrote three scenes and then I got stuck. Horrors!

So I signed up for a couple Masterclasses. One was with David Baldacci. He discussed this exact process and said when you’re stuck, it’s because you didn’t do enough research. I had the broad strokes of a story, so what research did I need to do?  Then it hit me: my characters. I was only feeling my way through my protagonist, had nothing on the antagonist, and only the vaguest idea of secondary characters, some of whom may not be necessary. I’m at the point in my writing career where I’d rather not spend a year on a manuscript only to have to do a major overhaul and maybe scrap most of it because I hadn’t done the prep.

I dug back into character. My go-to manual is The Art of Character by David Corbett, author of  the Lefty-nominated The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday. He generously shares his knowledge teaching at Book Passages Mystery Writers Conference, as well as other conferences, and on Litreactor. I’ve taken his class at Book Passages twice, and just completed a Litreactor class in March. The beauty of the Art of Character is that it teaches the writer how to delve into personal experience and memories, tapping into all that fecund buried material to better access our characters.

I am so jazzed about his newest book, The Compass of Character, which I just started working through. The material compliments his first book but comes at character from a different point of view: the external and internal factors that combine to push a character to take action. Both books have exercises which I found useful in assimilating the material because I am a learn-by-doing person.

Who hasn’t heard the old saw “character must be three-dimensional?” Honestly, I don’t get it. The image does not fit into my paradigm despite pondering it for the better part of a decade. What I do get is layers. How on top we feel one thing and tell ourselves this emotion is the justification for our actions but the truth lays far more deeply buried. Where The Art of Character teaches the writer to drill down to the bottom layers, The Compass of Character teaches the writer how to build character from the bottom up. The two are a great set for the beginning and more experienced writers.

I'm thrilled to report the inspiration dam broke open, Dear Reader. I work in The Art in the morning at the laptop, The Compass in the evening lounging with a legal pad, and throughout the day I jot notes on legal pads strewn about my home. It’s a wonderous feeling to have my character and her world revealed to me.

If you want to learn more about David Corbett, check out his site: https://davidcorbett.com/.


7 comments:

Kait said...

I recently finished The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday. It's an interesting read and not what I was expecting.

David Corbett's books sound intriguing and like great additions to a writer's bookshelf.

Happy that you broke through your block. Looking forward to the published result.

Jim Jackson said...

It has always interested me how different ways of explaining or illustrating a concept work for some people and leave others staring with blank eyes. It's great you found a source to break through your blockage.

~ Jim

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Interesting dual approach. I'll look for the books.

I interview my characters and build their life stories.

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

I like Baldacci's comment that if you're stuck you haven't done enough research. I have also found that to be the case with my own writing. And it amuses me that you have yellow legal pads all over the place. I prefer notebooks with pretty covers, but same concept.

Susan said...

Sounds like a great source for writers. Thank you!

KM Rockwood said...

Characters are indeed key to all novels, mysteries included. Thanks for the suggestions on sources that may help develop viable characters.

Keenan Powell said...

Kait: The Long Lost Love Letters was different from the noirish mysteries of David's that I've read. It's a very different book altogether. I enjoyed it.

Jim: Thanks! We have our own unique thinking patterns. I'm thrilled I found a source that connects with mine.

Margaret: Brilliant idea!

Judy: I'm used to legal pads from my law practice and they're way cheaper than cute notebooks, especially when purchased in bulk.

Susan: You're welcome!

KM: You're welcome!