Friday, March 22, 2013


Who is that character?

You have entered a writer’s home. What happens here goes in my next book! How’s that for a warning sign. Actually, I saw it on Facebook this a.m. and thought that that it could just as easily say, “Beware, author!” After all, everything is fodder.

A couple of evenings ago, my go-to group for laughter (we call ourselves PBS – the Pink Bra Society) got together over food groups, including the wine food group. At one point, as never fails, a one-of-a-kind line was thrown out and the authors in the group scrambled for ‘dibs’. That, too will appear in a book somewhere, soon.

You can’t best these moments for latching onto some sentence, some gesture or even your own thoughts that will make the characters in your book sound realistic. It happens everywhere – at the car service centre, the bank, the hair salon. People being people, interacting and each adding his or her own take on life.

That’s what we strive for when creating characters. Each as unique as the person who will eventually read the book. We want protagonists who become our friends, someone we look forward to visiting every now and then…and as the author wishes, hopefully over a period of many years.

Two basic tools in every writer’s arsenal – look and listen. Try to store locations and events in your mind; hear what people are saying and savour the words. Your manuscript will start taking shape when you draw on what’s around you.

Of course, you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. You’ve likely stored up many ‘dibs’ lines already. Next step…sit down and write. Let it all flow out.

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
Nominated for an Agatha Award, Best First Novel 2012
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.

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