Monday, October 24, 2011

Author Spotlight: Chris Lindberg

Today we welcome Chris Lindberg, writer of Code of Darkness, on his pit stop through The Ink Puddle with Virtual Book Tours! 
Amazon Summary:
"When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago Police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions.

Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city -- including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man's identity -- a loner known only by the name Rage -- he prepares to move in for the arrest.

But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. When Rage is captured in a deadly standoff, Larry is forced into hiding, and must search for answers while on the run.

The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all -- and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening." 

We'll be reviewing this book in the next couple of weeks, but for now, please welcome Chris Lindberg! 
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Comments wanted!  Which comes first: character or story?  
By Chris Lindberg  

Every author has a different way he or she goes about building their novel.  It’s a brick-by-brick process, after all.  You start with the story arc as foundation, then take the raw materials of character, scene, detail, and dialogue … then bond them together with the mortar of storyline and plot twist, and at that point, you have most of what can be called a novel.  (After that, the real work of editing and revising begins, but that’s an entirely different story).  

A common question writers often ask (and get asked) is: where do you start?  Most of the time, we start with one of two elements: character or concept.  In the case of character, you somehow get an idea for a character in your head, and decide they are fascinating enough to build an entire story around.  Think Harry Potter, Batman, or Jason Bourne as a few examples.  In the case of concept, you dream up a high concept for a story, build a storyline, and weave in characters that will push the story along.  Think “Twilight”, “The Hunger Games”, or pretty much all Dan Brown novels.  

Again, each writer’s method is different.  Some probably switch back and forth.  When I began writing my debut novel, Code of Darkness, it actually began as an entirely different concept (and too long to talk about here).  But I opened it up with a character whom I found fascinating: an alienated, weaponized young man, with a chemical imbalance baked into his altered DNA that makes him want to do very bad things.  He becomes a vigilante in order to channel that fury into his own brand of justice, but he has inner demons to battle.  And unknown to anyone, there are others out there like him …  

While working on this first draft of Code of Darkness, I also spent time doing character studies, to broaden my comfort level with writing different kinds of characters.  In this process I created many new possibilities, including a widowed Chicago cop, and a small-town social worker who’d recently moved to her new home in the big city.  After writing a few short stories about both characters, I decided to retool Code of Darkness into more of a modern thriller, with these three characters (vigilante, cop, social worker) as the foundation.  I began revising the story to include them from the beginning.  The cop could be on the vigilante’s case, closing in to make the arrest.  The small-town social worker could provide his moral compass, and possibly be a love interest.  

So in the case of Code of Darkness, I switched mid-stream, starting off with a concept, but then scrapping that original concept and building a better one, based on the characters I’d created.  

I’d love to hear how any of you built your stories – did you start with character or concept?  Leave a comment below!  
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Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime. 
Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness
Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 

4 comments:

Shilpa said...

For me its the character! All my stories have evolved around how my protagonist deals with a situation. It means i have to work extra hard on getting the plots/sub plots etc because I did not have more than one when the idea hit me. But there it is! Great post and all the best with the book!

GABixler said...

I've loved your concept! And, since you asked about opinions, I think I choose books TO READ more on the concept than the character. From the reader's standpoint, of course, we don't know the characters before we "like" the concept, right? Take for instance, Harry Potter. Don't you think it was the concept of the witches school that got us excited as opposed to Harry, who we ultimately loved? I recognize that the writer has a different perspective...and everybody who reads my reviews, knows that I fall in love with some characters...but, still, I believe for readers the concept is more important...

Jordan Butcher said...

Shilpa,
I thought Chris had a great post too! He was awesome to work with and I look forward to reading his book.

GABixler,
Great comment from a readers PoV! I can totally agree with that idea. You gotta have the concepts to really build the character!

I have to say that one of my favorite things about reading is entering brand new worlds that someone else had the imagination enough to create! And I'm a very character driven reader, if you build me up on the people I develop a love for, I'm more likely to be eager to see what is going to happen next!

-J

Kari Boardman said...

Great book! I enjoyed being part of the tour!