October 4, 2010

John Lindermuth Explains His Take on Technique

The average person is rarely concerned about technique when reading a novel. But they’ll know when it isn’t there.

Technique is the business of the writer. It consists of such varied ingredients as character, plot, dialogue, style and point of view. Think back to the last novel you enjoyed and considered what it was made it memorable.
Most times that element will be character.
So how does a writer create a memorable character? You might describe his/her appearance, job, eccentricity, desires, and other such aspects of personality. Yet all of these are no more than statistics. Statistics are generally dull and don’t stick in the mind.
The secret is the one ingredient too often forgot.
Whether your favorite is Emma or Hannibal Lector, Frodo or Scarlett O’Hara, Mister Darcy or Ishmael, they all share one thing in common. They inspire emotion in the reader. It doesn’t matter if that emotion be love or hate, pity or envy. The important fact is they stir emotion and that makes us remember them.
Without emotion, a character is lifeless. You can list all the statistics you want. It won’t do the trick.
Instilling emotion in our characters isn’t something which can be learned from a book or taught. It comes with practice. Lots and lots of practice.

J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in Pennsylvania. His work as a newspaper reporter and editor and, more recently, as librarian of his county historical society provides plenty of grist for building characters with emotion. He has published eight novels, including four in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series.
You can learn more about his novels at his webpage by clicking this blog title or his blog, http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/


  1. Hi John,
    Great blog,very informative and you have certainly hit the nail on the head. Without emotion your characters are mere cardboard cut-outs.



  2. Thanks for the opportunity, Annette.

  3. You make a really good point, John. Without emotion the characters don't seem real.

  4. Love your style of writing. Susan L.


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