#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

One Question

A special hello to Jennifer, who emailed to say she’s an aspiring writer.  Here’s her quesion: do you define your characters before you write, physical and character details, or let them develop as you write?

A: Both.  Usually, I’m getting to know a character for weeks, if not months or years, before I write about them.  When I begin the story, I have a fairly comprehensive but also generalized vision of the characters, the situation, etc., but my characters invariably develop as the book unfolds and they often surprise me–and I love it when that happens.

That’s my method, but I hasten to add that there is no one “right” way to plan characters–I work organically, with one thing growing out of another.  Something happens, a character responds to it, and so on.  Here’s the most valuable advice I can give an aspiring writer (besides the obvious, which is write, and you wouldn’t believe how often that particular step gets overlooked): Be willing to write badly until you learn to do it well.  Perfectionism is the enemy–and after all these years, it’s still a struggle I face every day.

Only God is perfect.  The rest of us have to be satisfied with doing our best and letting that be okay.  When you get right down to it, after all, “good enough” is plenty in most cases–and it sure beats doing nothing at all.

Bernice and I took a nice walk today.  No snow.  (YES!) The Yorkster is downright perky these days, thanks to her medicine, and that lights up my heart.

Until tomorrow….

3 comments to “One Question”

  1. Hilda
      · January 10th, 2012 at 8:27 pm · Link

    Something you may not be able to answer "on the record": Does your publisher tell you how long the book may be, how many chapters or pages? Do you have to pace the story to fit into a pre-determined mold? I've encountered a couple of books where "deleted chapters" were available on the authors' Websites, and I ended up reading them after finishing the book; turned out, it was annoying to read information in those chapters that would have been helpful to know while reading the book. I got the impression the two authors in question were annoyed themselves about the deleted material, and that's why they posted the chapter(s). Don't get yourself in trouble with any bigwigs by answering, but if you can answer, I'm curious. Thanks! Hilda

  2. Lea and her Mustangs
      · January 11th, 2012 at 3:27 am · Link

    Enjoy your blog AND your books. I live some place close to you, well not close maybe but in Airway Heights. Would love to meet you someday.

  3. Jennifer
      · January 11th, 2012 at 9:44 pm · Link

    You made my day answering for me. Thank you. I enjoy the personalities of your characters so much. I will keep writing and practicing – please keep writing too!

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