Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

And as my time here draws to a close...

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Nearly a month has gone by and I'm actually getting a bit nostalgic here about Open Book Toronto. It's either that or the slice of pizza I had for lunch.

It was pretty daunting starting out. I mean, in this case, what is a writer-in-residence supposed to do? Maybe I should have talked more about how I write, or my philosophy of writing, but that can get pretty boring, pretty quickly. Sometimes I doubt I know what I'm doing, so how can I pontificate about "how it's done?" That would be pretty bogus.

Maybe I should have talked about how I develop characters. Okay. It's not too late for that.

I talk to them a lot. I don't do this in public. It's generally in the car when I'm alone. I do believe those passing me think I'm talking on my cell. Another tactic: if I'm too tired but feel I should at least sit down and do something, or if I'm stuck in a certain part of a book, I'll begin writing back story. These bits are never meant to be part of the book (although at times I have made use of small nuggets of this sort of writing), but they serve to illuminate the character for me. We all had things happen to us as kids, for instance, that still hold a strong sway over our adult lives and that often does affect how I write the characters. I have a "history" I can draw on. This kind of writing is never planned out in any way. It just happens. Occasionally, it can be pretty dreadful, but even then it can help.

The other thing I do is always read the final version of a book out loud. It's amazing how many little phrases poorly written, that big of dialogue that's just not cutting it, the errors nobody has yet spotted, will leap out when the book is spoken. I wish I could say that this gets rid of the final few typos and such that exist in the ms, but so far that hasn't proven to be the case. Of course, my new novel is the first time I've tried this approach. There's a small mistake on Page 8, for instance.

Okay. That's it with Rick's helpful hints for today. Tomorrow is my last official blog entry.

Now what the hell do I write for that?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Rick Blechta

Rick Blechta is the author of the novels Knock On Wood, The Lark Ascending, Shooting Straight in the Dark, Cemetery of the Nameless, and When Hell Freezes Over. A Case of You, his latest novel, will be published in the spring of 2008 with Rendezvous Press.

Go to Rick Blechta’s Author Page