How Rose Tremain writes

Rose Tremain “The people who dismiss the idea of plot and character, who think you can dispense with them, I’d really suggest they find out how difficult it is. It just doesn’t happen. One of the seductive things of the novel is that you are borne along by it. What bears you along is the ‘what happens?’ Is the character going to be lost or saved? Happy or unhappy? All those human things we think about in our lives. If you’re not setting up jeopardy, if you’re not setting up conflict, love, humour you [will not] be borne along.”
[in an interview with ‘The Times’, May 23, 2016]

Rose TremainI agree wholeheartedly with Rose Tremain about the necessity of plot and character and have no love of experimental novels. A novel without plot and character is like a skeleton without a spine. A novel is, presumably, written to be read, to be enjoyed, to be re-read and recommended eagerly to friends. For this to happen the readers must care about your protagonist. If the reader doesn’t care, isn’t interested in the person – why he or she is as they are, what happens to them, why they take the decisions they do – then the book will be unread. This does not mean that all characters should be likeable, God forbid. Some of the most interesting characters are pretty nasty. Shakespeare’s Richard III is a great example. Better if characters are three-dimensional beings, more realistic, with light and dark.

Rose Tremain’s latest novel, The Gustav Sonata, was published in 2016. Her novels are full of variety; one of my favourites is The Colour, set in the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860s.

Read more about Rose Tremain’s thoughts on writing here. For information about her books, go to her website.

Rose Tremain


See how these other novelists write:-
William Maxwell
Kate Atkinson
Tracy Chevalier

‘The Gustav Sonata’ by Rose Tremain [UK: Chatto & Windus]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How author Rose Tremain cannot write without plot and character via @SandraDanby