START WITH CHARACTERS: “The plot is just the vehicle by which the characters are revealed. You create a bunch of characters and let them start bouncing into one another. That’s how a good story happens.”
KEEP ‘EM MOVING: “My agents has a great line: ‘Alice was down the rabbit hole at the end of page one.’ A story is about movement. If you’ve got more than one page with a character sitting in a room, get him out.
FORGET THE PAST: “What your characters did before today is irrelevant. Flashbacks tend to be an alarm bell that your story isn’t working. If you want to see a great example of character in action, go rent THE VERDICT with Paul Newman. You know almost nothing about his character’s past.”
MAKE EVERYTHING COUNT: “Every scene needs to have a point. As David Mamet says, ‘A scene ends when a character gets what he wants or doesn’t get what he wants.’ Everything else is extraneous.”
HIDE, DON’T SHOW: “Suspense tends to be best delivered offstage – it’s delivered by withholding information rather than showing it. The specter of what could happen is far more interesting than what actually does happen.”
GET TO THE END: “A professor said to me once, ‘Just finish the damn book.’ If you never complete a draft, you’ll never know how to do it.”
REWRITE, REWRITE, REWRITE: “That first draft is just spaghetti on the wall. I rewrote my first book eight times in two years – that’s where you make yourself a genius.”
Dennis Lehane (born August 4, 1965) is an American author. He has written several award-winning novels, including A Drink Before the War and the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award-winning film. Another novel, Gone, Baby, Gone, was also adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film. His novel Shutter Island was adapted into a film by Martin Scorsese in 2010. Lehane is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami, Florida.