My Chat about books with Author Lisette Brodey
January 22, 2022
My stories are always character-driven. Like real life, what happens is never as important as the people who make it happen.
This week, I had the honor of being interviewed by Lisette Brodey, one of the country’s best writers and the author of two of my favorite books: Squalor, New Mexico and Hotel Obscure.
In the interview, she asked me:
Do your books begin with ideas for characters or plots? Something else?
This is my answer:
My novels are always character-driven. I have no idea what the plot is when I begin. I sit down, write the first sentence that pops in my head, and see where it takes me.
Like real life, what happens is never as important as the people who make it happen. I don’t know who all of my characters are when I start on a new novel. I just let them come into the story when they’re ready, and then I don’t move forward until I let them tell me their backstory.
I just follow along and write down what they do and what they say. They know the story better than I do. It’s really happening to them. I’m just standing on the sidelines watching.
And on more than a few occasions, I’ve had a minor character walk on for a scene, then refuse to leave. Those are the characters I like best. What do they know that I don’t know? And when will I find out?
On a 300-page mystery, I’m usually 280 pages into the novel before I know who committed the murder, and it’s so clear, I wonder why I didn’t realize it 200 pages earlier.
I feel as though the writer is the camera. We must let the reader see the scene as clearly as we do. So I probably add more description than some writers do.
But the critical part of a character is not how he or she looks, but what the point of view character is thinking as the story races along.
I think the primary difference between a bad story and a good story is the way we handle internal dialogue.
That’s what makes books better than movies. On the motion picture screen, we see the characters, but never know what they are thinking.
For the rest of the lengthy interview, please go to Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau Website.