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


June Interviews

6/02 Terrie Moran, Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

6/09 Connie Berry, The Art of Betrayal

6/16 Kathleen Kalb, A Final Finale or A Fatal First Night

6/23 Jackie Layton, Bag of Bones: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery

6/30 Mary Keliikoa, Denied


Saturday WWK Bloggers

6/12 Jennifer J. Chow

6/26 Kait Carson


Guest Blogs

6/05 Samantha Downing

6/19 Lynn Johanson













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E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez. It will be released on June 21st.


Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).


Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!


Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.


Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.


Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!


Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.


KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!


Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!

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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!