Lillian Hellman Quote for Writers

table with open notebook and penLillian Hellman says “Story is what the characters want to do. Plot is what the writer wants the characters to do.”

The character in my new novel, Norman in the Painting, who appeared wearing a Homberg hat, is keeping his intentions a mystery. I wanted him to be hired by the antagonist, but he refuses that connection. Hellman is right.

Let us know if you have a character who wants to tell his or her own story and not follow your plot?


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

5 thoughts on “Lillian Hellman Quote for Writers”

      1. Yes, surprise in a story is great.
        Have you written a collaborative story with other writers? It’s fun but can be work to get a story arc and not get off track. I had my writing classes each do one with the same beginning. The class with 10 people needed a little help but the class with 20 people was a handful. The distracting entries had to be rewritten several times. It was interesting to see how different the two stories were. I published them in my anthology, Written Across the Genres.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most of my work has been collaborations actually. One series I wrote with up to forty writers over a period of five years. Long time, huh? My blog features the latest collaborations, including one that was with a writer I met on wordpress. I will happily check out your work. Heh, I love reading.


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