NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is Heathcliff In Here?



Writers are often asked what is more important, character or plot?  In other words, are novels character-driven or plot-driven?  I guess there’s a reason for the question, but it seems to me the answer is always the same: Character is the whole monte.  Without a character, be it a volcano, a fish, a mermaid or a cowboy on a horse, there is no plot.  Character causes action.  Ergo question irrelevant.  Pretty basic writing 101.  And timeless in its logic.

            Regarding this subject, one of the legends I’ve most enjoyed reading is the (possibly apocryphal) story concerning Emily Bronte.  When asked how such a sheltered, proper young woman, a governess and daughter of a clergyman, could possibly have created a character with the wild passion and force of Heathcliff, she replied, “I am Heathcliff.” 

Don’t you love it?  She’d bonded totally with her creation.  Maybe when she sat down to write on the moors, in the family outhouse (there was an outhouse) or on a wooden chair in her cold, fireless room, she went into the zone of imagining, loving, and becoming her character.  She entered Heathcliff’s head and heart.  As the ink bled onto the paper, they lived and longed and suffered as one. 

While kneeling at the feet of Emily Bronte’s genius, I strive, like most writers, to reach that same deep zone of togetherness with my characters.  At the moment, for example, Deva Dunne, the amateur sleuth in my Murders by Design Mystery Series and I have bonded though she’s younger and has better legs.  But these are superficial differences.  In our hearts, we are one and share the same pen.   And not incidentally, together we have just completed number five in our cozy mystery series, The Design Is Murder.  It’s due out in November, and we’re both really looking forward to it!


The first four in Jean Harrington’s Naples-set, light-hearted mysteries featuring amateur sleuth interior designer Deva Dunne and studly Detective Rossi as her go-to hero are available on Amazon as e-books for your Kindle, Nook and iPad. 

5 comments:

Rita said...

I always thought that question was ree-dick-you-less. How can you have a story with a character. Their story IS the plot.
Thoughtful post. Thanks

Anne Marie Becker said...

I love Emily Bronte's comment. "I am Heathcliff." After all, we can only write what we know and understand...or what we seek to understand. Though I write chilling villains, what I know comes from my experience and education. That's why I love to learn - because it broadens the boundaries of my imagination. :)

Elise Warner said...

I too love and wholeheartedly agree with Emily Bronte's comment. Right and write on.

jean harrington said...

Thanks Rita and all. A comment of my own. Rita's Wednesday post with its sensitive praise for our military men is the one that I wish had been posted today. It's so timely and right for our very beautiful national day of memorial.

Wile Heathcliff is without doubt a memorable character, and so much more could be said about him that was touched on here, I love Rita's tribute to our men in uniform. Thanks, Rita, for reminding us of what we owe to our national heroes and the women who love them. Sincerely, Jean

J Wachowski said...

I agree, Jean--every story is a character's story. And I love the idea that Emily is Heathcliff. She was so bold to admit it! Very inspiring....

More Popular Posts