Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Just open a vein...

I seem to recall some writer using the phrase, opening a vein. I can't recall the name (not unusual for me) but I do remember he or she was talking about how to write with truth and emotion. Digging deep into your psyche and letting it come out through the character.

I'm reading Daggers & Men's Smiles by Jill Downie at the moment, and will be reviewing it this weekend on Mystery Maven Canada. It takes place on Guernsey and
involves the making of a film, actors and of course, death. In it, a seasoned actor comments on how a beautiful young actress has developed more depth in her acting after her lover is murdered.

Writers are like actors in that sense. You can fake the setting to a certain degree, relying on research and observation even if you're lacking the sense of place that comes from being raised in a location. You can certainly research all the forensic information you'll ever need to use in a crime novel. But how do you get the characters' real?

Do we have to suffer in our own lives in order to portray a sleuth who's been jaded by events? Can the feelings of grief be evoked and set on the page? Does a writer need a degree in psychology in order to get the characters right?

Or do we try to know our characters so deeply that they react naturally in a scene?

Or is there a tacit agreement between writer and reader that you can keep your veins closed and just write a damn good novel with believable characters, a sharp mystery and a setting that sweeps you away...and all will be accepted?

On the other hand, there's a saying we all use...'it's all research'! So suffer away?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

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