Michael Connolly Says There's No "One Way"... - Jo-Ann Carson

Michael Connolly Says There's No "One Way"…

The Series Character:

How to Do It Right

Michael Connelly (Thrillerfest, July 10, 2013, New York)

  • “There’s no one way to do it right.”
  • If you want to write a series book forget it’s part of a series and write one book…
  • Don’t hold back and save stuff for the next book – put everything you have into the one you’re writing
  • His process is “mystical” – organic – feels lucky about that
  • Core of the series character – a longing or an incompletion
  • Gave 2 images – 1) a merry go round, where the character is trying to grab the brass ring and 2) a tunnel, in which the character is going through life trying to reach the light at the end
  • it all comes down to the character and their unfinished business


3 Pieces of Advice (he’s carried with him for decades):

  1. Joseph Wambaugh – the secret to success is to consider how cases work on cops rather than how cops work on cases
  2. Kurt Vonnegut – make sure on every page everybody wants something even if it’s just a glass of water
  3. Richard Price – when you circle around a murder long enough you get to the core of the city


  • Higher aspiration is to have the series say more
  • Becomes consumed by momentum
  • Backstory can cause speed bumps
  • Remember to hide the cheese
  • If you build it…the series will come
  • Concentrate on the book in front of you…the series will come

Michael Connelly talks about the appeal of Harry Bosch (1.04 min.):
Extra Extra:

  1. Ann Herold wrote a good article recently in the Los Angeles Magazine: “Michael Connelly’s Novel Approach to Crime in L.A.”
  2. An excerpt from Connelly’s latest book,
  3. Interviews with Connelly – see his website

As usual, any errors in this material are mine and mine alone. Michael Connelly made perfect sense, brilliant sense…when he spoke.

Next Wednesday another treat: David Morrell on Writing Vivid Settings