“Sahno offers a compelling vision of a community whose need for companionship and support in the face of life’s struggles is stirring.”

“The characters are deep, well thought out…”

“I read this novel in a few short days, drawn in by a believable plot and characters who seem to have walked out of real life.”

When it comes to discussing their own work, most authors opt for modesty. That’s as it should be. But every once in a while, you have to talk a bit about what you do well. (Or, in this case, quote a few Amazon reviewers.)

A while back, I posted a brief blog post about my ear for dialogue. I’m not inordinately proud of having it, as I didn’t purposely work toward such a goal. It’s natural for me, given my background and history.

Character, however, is another matter.

 

What A Character

I’ve always been drawn to character-driven novels, even those that eschew plot in favor of a surreal approach—think Burroughs, Selby, Brautigan, and so on. For me, characters are much more essential to a novel than the nuts and bolts of a plot, even in TV and movies.

I find it fascinating that recent developments in the current “Golden Age” of TV have largely sprung from The Sopranos, a character-driven series that often ignored complex plot devices in favor of great performances from compelling characters.

In my own work, I’ve gone to some extremes to develop characters that, in retrospect, strike me as pretty odd. One example that comes to mind is Miles of Files.

For that novel, I created three tiers of characters, an idea I’d adopted—okay, stolen—from a lesser-known Dickens novel, Dombey & Son. Primary characters, of course, were the main focus. The secondary characters were nearly as important, but served something of a different purpose. To a certain degree, the primary, struggling characters were pitted against mostly affluent secondary characters. And, as in Dombey & Son, the tertiary characters were commentators who passed on information about primary and secondary characters.

I wanted to be sure each character was unique and different enough from the others that the reader could easily identify them in a few lines each time they appeared. So I assigned Myers-Briggs personality types to every character in the book, then tried to let them guide me from that basis.

 

And Now For Something Completely Different

For my most recent novel, Whizzers, I had to get into characters in a much different manner than ever before. Some of them are actual historical figures—and, of course, all the usual legal disclaimers apply—but more importantly, many are real people from my own life.

The main character is a fictionalized version of yours truly, with some autobiographical elements not only from my own personality, but also from recollections of life experiences. I drew on the life experience of other people close to me as well. Suffice to say that most of the characters in this book are close to my heart, and some have lived there for many years.

Whizzers received the best reception of any of my novels, eventually reaching #9 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction. I think the relative success of the book is simply because the characters are so close to the bone, but maybe the subject matter did it. I can’t say I know for sure.

Whatever the case, now that I’m working on my next release, I’m just as interested in seeing what those characters will do. I always am.

game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...
book-building

Book-Building 101

This week's post is called Book-Building 101 because I want to provide my fellow indie authors a little info on the mechanics of putting out a completed book. And I'm not talking about plot, structure, or basics like editing or proofreading. I'm talking about the...
spirituality

Spirituality in the Fictional World

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called Talking About A Metaphysical Work where I tried to discuss spirituality in fiction. At least, that's what I thought I was doing. See, I had just published my fourth novel, Whizzers, and I knew I needed to promote it. I had a...

What If I Don’t Want to Sell?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk called Marketing Your Novel that was hosted by the Orlando Public Library. A good twenty people or so were kind enough to show up on a blazing Florida Sunday afternoon to hear me speak. The talk went well: I gave the group...

Rolling With The Changes

I’m back on the blog today after a two-week break, which hasn’t really been a break at all. At least, it hasn’t felt like one. But the topic of today’s post is change, and for good reason: I’m dealing with some major changes in my family, as my parents move past the...
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2020 Vs. 20/20: What We Saw Then, What We See Now

Grinding through the first few months of 2021, I presume nearly everyone wants to shut the door on 2020. After all, the tragic COVID-19 pandemic and—at least in the United States—chaotic election drama left millions exhausted, overwhelmed, and just plain traumatized....
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The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

I wrote most of Miles of Files between 2007 and 2015. I felt my first novel had been an artistic success, but I wasn't so sure about the second one. Now, I'd moved on to this third novel without having found a publisher for either of the first two. And it was totally...
newsletter

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Quarterly Newsletter—And An Invitation

Okay, I'll admit right out of the gate that this isn't really a "sneak peek." My subscribers got it yesterday. Most of what I send them each quarter is content exclusive to subscribers, but every once in a while I'll share something here as well. The following is from...
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Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...
collection

A Free Short Story Collection

Last week I wrote a bit about the upcoming Rides From Strangers short story collection, as I finally got the completed cover design. Today’s post is related, but with a little twist. As I mentioned a week ago, I’m offering this e-book free to anyone who joins the...