David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

On Pyr-o-Mania: It’s the Characters, My Dear Watson

Today on Pyr-o-mania, the house blog of Pyr (publishers of my novels Infoquake and MultiReal), I’ve posted a little piece about the importance of good characters in fiction. I use as the jumping-off point my recent forays into reading the complete Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Quick excerpt:

John Watson and Sherlock HolmesDoyle really didn’t have enough material to fill four novels and fifty-six short stories’ worth of paper. The plots are fairly trite, the mysteries are sometimes clever but mostly commonplace, the insights into human nature are fairly shallow, and the prose is expedient if unremarkable… But there is one thing Doyle had that makes up for all the other shortcomings: he had a frickin’ incredible character in Sherlock Holmes himself…

I find that when I think back on the great stories I’ve read in my lifetime, SF/F or otherwise, it’s generally the characters that I remember. That’s why I can barely remember a single plot from the original Star Trek, but I know the triad of McCoy, Spock and Bones like the back of my hand. (Same goes for The Next Generation, though the only truly great character from that show was Picard.) That’s why I remember Long John Silver but barely remember Treasure Island. And that’s why, for all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s insane worldbuilding and linguistic inventiveness, the first thing I think of when I think of The Lord of the Rings is Gandalf leaning on his staff (or Gollum writhing on the ground pining for his preccccccccious).

Go make my editor happy, and post your comments on the Pyr-o-mania blog.

Update 2/18/09 @ 12:41 PM: Fixed the link to the blog piece.

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