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The Engine of a Story

14 Jul

More naps these days

If a child cries in a loveless home, does he or she make a sound?

Can love be given if never experienced?

Does evil exist, or do people simply do evil acts?

Can violence ever be justified?

And what is justice in a “civilized” world?

Can love conquer all?

THE BIRTH OF A STORY OR NOVEL

That’s how my short stories and novels begin – with a question – and from there I build a story surrounding the question.  Truthfully, the whole creative process still baffles me some, but I’ve learned not to fight it. I just let it flow and trust my muse to take me where she wants me to go.

CREATING A MEMORABLE CHARACTER

Have you ever watched the television show “Blacklist?”  The main character in that show, Raymond Reddington, played by James Spader, is one of the most unique characters I have ever seen.  He is a complex man, good and evil, with a quirky personality.  He’s one of those guys you want to hate, but he’s so entertaining you can’t bring yourself to reject him.

It’s that type of character I love to create.  It was with that in mind that I created Eli Baker and Striker in my Shadow novels.  These are stone-cold killers, but likeable killers with a code of justice.  Baker spouts philosophy and is, at times, tortured by life and his character flaws.  Striker is not a man you want to meet in a dark alley, but there is a loyalty about him which makes him compelling.

Or so I hope!

THE STORY OR THE CHARACTER

So what propels a novel, the storyline/plot or the characters?  In my mind it is a combination of the two.  A good story needs fascinating characters, but the characters need a blueprint to follow.

Matt Scudder, created by Lawrence Block . . . Dave Robicheaux by James Lee Burke . . . these are greatly-flawed characters who give us an insight into the frailties of mankind, and I love that kind of creativity.  The characters are so dominating that they can carry even an average plot.  And yet you take some fairly normal characters, like the ones found in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and you put them in a brilliant plot, and that works as well.

Great stuff!

Anyway, I’m rambling. I have a front porch to put back together now that I’ve taken it apart, so I’ll stop here and let you all get back to your creativity.  Have a brilliantly happy day, unless you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”