Running Jokes

I like running gags in novels. No, I’m not talking about boisterous humor, necessarily, more about having threads within relationships that span time in the books. When done well, I think they not only provide insight into the characters, they draw the reader into the story by allowing them to feel they’re in on the…

“Writing dialogue,” Bill said, “is easy.”

If you write or read fiction, you know that dialogue can make or break a story. Good dialogue conveys important story points, personality traits, and relationship cues. It is interesting, crisp, and meaningful. The best dialogue is sharp or witty, and though it reflects real life, it isn’t the same thing as real-life conversation. In…

Of Race and Character

I’ve been reading articles all afternoon on the dearth of minority characters in books. I find that amusing, as I’ve written 4 books and a short story collection rife with minority (and non-minority) characters. Rather, I think, the articles should consider why books with minority characters don’t garner anyone’s attention. I remember reading the horrified…

Writing as the Opposite Sex

I stumbled across an article penned by Michele Willens in The Atlantic entitled, “The Mixed Results of Male Authors Writing Female Characters.” The article made a number of good points, but can probably be summarized with the following: “By default, women have it easier than men when they attempt to craft characters of the opposite sex,”…

The Making of a Woman

I have written before about my process of creating realistic characters. It’s a bit of psychology, human behavioral study, plot-need fulfillment, and witch doctory. However, there is a greater aspect I’d like to discuss: that is, the broader social issues at hand. When I write, I don’t like pounding people over the head with ideas, except…

Background Work

I decided that the main character of the new book, Jeanne “Dark” D’Arc, owns a 1972 Renault Alpine. She is proudly, almost stubbornly French, and the year is special to her. Her personal symbol is the Ibis, which she had painted on her car. It is a clumsy bird, inelegant, until it can take flight. Having…

Writing Interesting Characters

I’ve said any number of times that I am a character-centric reader. That is, my interest in a book is largely determined by how well I can connect to the characters. So it’s not surprising that I write the same way – if I can fall in love with my characters, I know I can…

Ex-Mess and My Holmesian Endeavor I

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to you all. I trust all of you had a safe and enjoyable holiday. I enjoyed my first real Christmas in four years. It was enjoyable because I spent it hanging out with my daughter. Three years ago, my marriage ended, and I frankly hadn’t celebrated the holidays since….

The Fiction of Colored People

When I write, I rarely have a personal agenda. In fact, I try to keep my personal beliefs out of my characters’ lives. Still, things eke in, despite my efforts. A primary example of this is my attitude towards race.  Simply put, I don’t believe in it. Race is a fiction, largely invented during the…

Getting Dark

My next book, which I will start plotting this month, stars a female Security Analyst – a female Sherlock Holmes type – who is gifted with Synesthesia. Her partner is a burly, ex-Army Ranger with what he calls a “Crazy Magnet.” Together, they stumble across a plot that threatens to unravel the uneasy thread of…

Developing Characters a Reader Could Love

I confess. When it comes to books, I am a people person. No matter how unique and interesting the story, if the characters don’t hold my interest, I will likely never finish the book. For one thing, I am not a particularly fast reader. If I invest 400 pages of my life in a novel, …

Keeping It Real

My characters are real to me. No, I’m not schizophrenic, to my knowledge. I can separate reality from fantasy, and do so, as it suits me. I mean, in my writing and editing, I go to great lengths to make my characters seem like real people. If they aren’t real to me, there’s little chance…