Creating Compelling Characters – The Successful Authors Know How

I’m occasionally asked who are my favorite writers.  I’ll read just about anything and anyone, but I always migrate back to murder mysteries, legal thrillers, and crime novels.  I have several favorite authors who write in these genres.  In no particular order, they include: John Hart, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Vince Flynn, James Patterson, Sue Grafton, David Baldacci, and Meg Gardiner. 

I’ve read many novels written by Connelly, Grisham and Hart, and fewer of the others.  I’ve recently discovered Meg Gardiner and David Baldacci, and I look forward to reading more of their work.  They bring fascinating characters into suspenseful plots.

Every author on my list is hugely successful, selling millions of books across the world. If the measure of a writer’s talent is book sales, then few are more skilled than those on my list—at least among contemporary writers.  I believe one of many common threads contributing to the success of these authors is their ability to create characters with staying power.  Their protagonists compel you to read the next in the series. In many cases, their main characters become as famous as the writers themselves.

Mickie Haller and Harry Bosch have made Michael Connelly famous, or was it vice versa.  Haller is a lawyer, Bosch a detective.  They both challenge authority and ignore boundaries.  They are cunning, smart, and fearless. You want them as friends and fear them as enemies.

Amos Decker is a former detective turned investigator.  He possesses an injury-induced eidetic memory and social quirks that make Sheldon Cooper on “Big Bang Theory” appear normal.  Decker provides the foundation for several books in David Baldacci’s Memory Man series.  You won’t find a more unique character.

Kinsey Millhone, the likable non-conformist, casual dressing loner, policewoman turned problem-solving investigator, is the cornerstone of Sue Grafton’s alphabet crime investigation series. I dare you to read just one book in this series.  Millhone won’t let you stop at one.

Being an aspiring writer, I read these authors as much to learn from their writing as I do to enjoy their novels.  I only hope if you read “At the River’s Edge,” you will find Emily Edwards as memorable as Mickie, Harry, Amos, and Kinsey.

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