Saturday, August 28, 2010

Charlie Parker Mystery

Deadly Gamble: The First Charlie Parker Mystery (Charlie Parker Mystery Series)Deadly Gamble: The First Charlie Parker Mystery by Connie Shelton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I appreciated the first person presentation in Deadly Gamble. I don't usually like first-person stories. First person is hard to do, and Shelton got it right.

The story, with who killed sleaze-bag Detweiler, gets Charlie involved because an estranged childhood friend is involved and comes to her for help. Lots of good descriptions of Albuquerque's various neighborhoods as Charlie does her first sleuth work.

I was moderately dissatisfied with the conclusion, mostly because it seemed almost an after thought. But I'm really picky. This is a good, fast-paced, well-written mystery.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Plot or Characters, the Challenge of Writing

I've read many stories where I'm not even fond of the main character, but the situation is dynamic enough to keep me turning the pages (or click the right arrow in e-books). I wonder what will happen, and mostly, how the character will develop. Having the story line build around the strengths and weaknesses of characters is a big part of this urge to keep reading.

Several years ago, a blogger ran a "which comes first" series of interviews with different authors, asking if their novels have started with the character or with the plot. The answers were interesting, and nearly 60% have said plot comes first.

I'm in the minority again. I'm one who answered characters first. Most of my novels have started with definite features of the protagonist. As I think this through, I began to know all my characters as if they were kin: their family situations (siblings, and extended family); if they're passive or aggressive, and whether or not something helped shape them that way. I know their favorite foods and pet peeves, and pretty much know how they will respond to stress, adversity, surprises, joy.

With these traits firmly in mind, I then form a story that will test my characters. Usually I have a backdrop, because that's part of the character's life. But the puzzle and mystery of forming this story is the enjoyable challenge of writing. Very often the characters surprise me, by responding with a few wrinkles I hadn’t conceived. These add complexity to the story and characters; and I write away—smiling, certain I'll have characters that will compel a reader.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mark Twain's Year

Did you know?

The year 2010 marks the 175th anniversary of Samuel Langhorne Clemence’s (Mark Twain) birth, the 125th anniversary of Twain’s pinnacle work Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the 100th anniversary of his death.

Various celebrations are listed at Hannibal MO website.