Robert Dugoni Keeping it Real – January Program Recap

Many thanks to Robert Dugoni for a wonderful conversation about the development of his writing process at our January program.

Bob was careful to say that, while he has been fortunate in publishing many books, it isn’t because he is a better writer than some unpublished writers. Traditional publishing, he says, requires a combination of opportunity, perseverance, and dumb luck.

That said, his “dumb luck” brought his words to print early, and he has become a New York Times bestselling author with over four million readers.

“Write what you are excited to write,” he said. “Love your characters and love your subject. Because if you don’t love them, if you aren’t passionate about them, nobody else is going to be, either.”

His thoughts about finding an agent or editor were similar. “Find someone who believes in you. Not your book but you.”

But what about his ideas for writing? Those come from his head, although he does extensive research, and serendipity plays a role too Bob wrote Tracy Crosswhite originally as a side character. But she became his real winner as the protagonist of her own series. That is partly because the reader gets a real sense of who Tracy is — not just the cop, but the person. The same is true for his literary release, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, which took him ten years to write. The key to its success is the believability of Sam Hell. He is real.

One tip Bob offered on keeping it real? Don’t focus on characters’ jobs or specific roles. And if you are interviewing people — a police officer, for example, because you are writing a police-based mystery — don’t ask them about their job. Ask them about their life, about what’s important to them. And then create a real world for your real characters. A world your readers can escape to and live in. Even if it’s on a different planet.