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

0 Replies to “Michael Connolly Says There's No "One Way"…”

  1. Awesome stuff! This post came at the perfect time for my writing–evil book #3. Gah! I wish I had seen Connelly present for the experience, but the cliff notes you provided means I didn’t have to! Thanks! 🙂

  2. Hey, Jo-Ann. You do a super job of summarizing these workshops you attended. Appreciate you sharing. I’m wondering, is writing a synopsis for one of your books pretty easy for you? You really seem to find the jewels in these presentations. I’ll be FBing and Tweeting this. 🙂

    1. Hi Marsha
      I’ve been hold up in a cabin, off the grid and that’s why I’m so slow getting back to you. My apologies.
      Thank you for your praise. I like taking notes and have spent years doing it so I’m pretty confident that I get the gist of whatever is being talked about. Synopsises are a different matter. They are so difficult. Worse than putting a girdle on, I swear.
      Thanks for the support and promos. You’re an awesome colleague.

  3. Love these posts from Thrillerfest. Makes me want to attend! I’m about to start book three in my series and it has turned into a bear! Very timely post!

    1. Hi Jerrie
      I’m glad the notes are helpful. I’d love to see you at Thrillerfest next year. It really is an awesome conference.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Great post and I liked hearing what Connolly had to say about his protagonist. It sounds so easy to create a character that readers can relate to – yeah! Real easy….sigh!!!

    1. Hi Mimi
      I know I’m always stunned when you published writers make it sound easy. I love how lovable your heroines always are. It seems to come naturally to you. For me they tend to be irritatingly stupid or wimpy. But I’m enjoying being a work in process.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    1. Linda
      You’re welcome. I learn a lot by going over my notes and typing them up, so sharing them just seemed to make sense. I’m glad you’re enjoying them (and my adventures).
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

  5. Can never be reminded enough of the Kurt Vonnegut quote: “make sure on every page everybody wants something even if it’s just a glass of water.” So true! Thanks for sharing another great blog post with us, Jo-Ann!

    1. Hi Jacqui
      With everyone wanting something on every page…leaves us with a lot of desperate individuals, doesn’t it. LOL
      You’re welcome. I’m enjoying going over my notes and sharing them. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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