More from Debbie Macomber
Published: June 30, 2006
|Here are some additional insights from popular novelist Debbie Macomber. The print interview with Macomber, conducted by Janda Raker, appears in the August 2006 issue of The Writer.|
More on her writing routine
By the way, writing a predetermined number of pages every day is practical, organized and businesslike. It allows me to meet my goals and contractual responsibilities and helps me accomplish what I want to accomplish. And being businesslike about writing in no way hampers creativity!
My characters come from the story. I'm the type of writer who usually starts with a plot premise. From that idea, I develop the characters best suited to convey the story. Other writers start with characters and then find the story. Or they may start with some image, an overheard snippet of conversation or a scene that comes to them full-blown--there are lots of ways to begin a story, lots of ways to create characters.
Something else that contributes to characterization for me is observation of others--either the people I know well or the people I meet in passing. It's how I ensure that characters' actions are believable and their speech is natural. (It doesn't mean, of course, that I actually base my characters on real people!)
More on dialogue
Each character has his or her own way of speaking, depending on personality, background, current situation and the way he or she reacts to that situation--and to the other speaker. In fact, the relationship between the speakers is a crucial aspect of determining a character's voice in any given scene. I believe that much of this is instinctive on the writer's part and is a consequence of knowing your characters.
To keep track of where I am in a current project, I use a calendar on which I record what happens when and to whom. If a scene takes place in July, for example, I may include activities involving the Fourth, or at least refer to it. That way, important events don't get ignored--just as they wouldn't in real life. I'm also able to keep timing straight, which is as important to the reader as it is to me. And my character lists are especially vital when I'm writing an ongoing series.