Crossing gender, race, and age gap

Have you read a story written by a male whose protagonist is female?
In George Pellicanos’s story, “The Confidential Informant,” from The Martini Shot, the protagonist is a 20-something black man. And another young black man appears in another story, “String Music.” Pelicanos is a middle aged white guy. Ho good are the portrayals? I asked my grandson to read the stories because he spends hours each day in basketbal games with mostly African-americans.

Not unlike a male author creating a female protagonist or vice versa or a young author writing from the POV of a much older character, this black-on-white treatment can be challenging. Continue reading “Crossing gender, race, and age gap”

How many characters should inhabit your novel?

How many characters should your populate your story?

In a 2015 workshop sponsored by Houston Writers House, local literary luminary Ann Weisgarber warned to not have more than five characters appear in the first three pages of a story (short story, memoir, or novel). We did not take up the related question, what’s the maximum number a novel can support and how much does it depend on the number of words or pages?

That workshop came to mind recently while reading Julian Symons, A Criminal Comedy. I’d been working my way through the winners of the Edgar Award for best crime fiction novel and Symons was on the list, not for this novel, but for his The Progress of a Crime, which I enjoyed reading a few months back. I stumbled upon A Criminal Comedy and decided to give it a try. Continue reading “How many characters should inhabit your novel?”