I agree with… Joël Dicker

Joël Dicker, on his characters, they are: “…like friends: some of whom you see all the time, some you see only occasionally but are still really close with and some, like your roommate or colleague, that you see all the time but really can’t stand. The question I asked myself all along is: ‘Could the book work without them?’, and if the answer was yes then they had to go.”
[Joël Dicker, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, March 21, 2014]

Joël Dicker

[photo: joeldicker.com]

Dicker is talking about the secondary characters in his debut novel The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. Killing surplus characters, or merging them together, is something discussed on every creative writing course. As an author we take great time and care creating our characters so they become real to us, and hopefully in the end to the readers. But often a character resists, just doesn’t work on the page, and it’s difficult to work out why. This is a character to cut.

I remember an old piece of writing advice.  I can’t remember who said it: what’s the purpose of this scene? If it doesn’t have a purpose, cut it.’ It’s the same with characters. They can’t be there just because they are nice/evil/happy/based on someone you like etc. They have to do something: add to the plot, provide a twist, a surprise, pose an obstacle to the protagonist, add a differing point of view, contribute mystery or humour.

For Joël Dicker’s website, click here.

If you agree with Joël Dicker, perhaps you will agree with:-
Lizzie Enfieldon women seeking revenge
Tracy ChevalierA good painting arrests you and demands something from you
Lynn Barberdon’t make up your mind too early what it’s about

Joël Dicker


‘The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair’ by Joël Dicker [UK: MacLehose Press]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
I agree with @JoelDicker cut out spare characters http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1tL via @SandraDanby #amwriting