We continue with our discussion on the importance of character in writing a mystery. Today my guest is mystery writer, Kaye George. She's created an unforgettable character with an equally unforgettable name. Welcome, Kaye.
The Importance of Character in Mystery Writing
Let's face it, your characters are what keep your readers
coming back. Setting and plot are essential, but they're no good without
Your characters can be likeable or not, but should connect
with the reader. Hannibal Lector connects with our dark sides, thrills and
frightens us, as does Dexter. Miss Marple is a comfortable companion. We'd like
to take tea with her and hear her views on the late night goings on at the
Vicarage. Stephanie Plum is a gal I'd like to know. Life would never be dull
with Plum's shenanigans, cars blowing up, her grandmother's comments at dinner,
her tangled love life.
Quick, can you tell me a plot from one of Janet Evanovich's
Stephanie Plum books? I'm sure you can relate plots for Agatha Christie's
mysteries, but aren't Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot what you think of first
when someone mentions Dame Agatha? Isn't Sherlock Holmes more than the sum of
In fact, Christie's books are classified as Miss Marple or
Hercule Poirot, aren’t they? And I think more people recognize who Stephanie
Plum is than who her creator is.
In short, the more vivid, the better. Over the top is good.
Memorable is best. (I love to write about Imogene Duckworthy because I like her
Most of the files in my How To writing folder are about
Character. It's what I study most. I collect information on steps of intimacy,
personality defects, how to detect lying, the dynamics of abusive relationships,
etc.--all so I can write authentic characters. Getting characters right is why
I eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants, sometimes whipping out my notebook
and taking dictation. Tip: Don't sit near me in a restaurant. Viva les caractères!
Thanks for having me!
Kaye George, twice nominated for Agatha Awards, is the author of CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery, as well as numerous short stories which appear in various online and print magazines and anthologies. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", writes for several newsletters and blogs, and has given workshops on short story writing and promotion.
Imogene Duckworthy, unwed mother and resident of tiny Saltlick, Texas, longs to be a PI. When Uncle Huey is found murdered, a half-frozen
package of mesquite-smoked sausage stuffed down his throat, and her mother, Hortense, is taken in for the crime, she gets her chance. Unclear on the exact duties of a PI, Immy busts Mother out of jail with a fire in the bathroom wastebasket. But, on the run from the law, along with Immy’s toddler daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, now what? Time to consult her second-hand copy of The Compleat Moron’s PI Guidebook. That should work.
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