“I never make up characters, I never contrive them, I know damn well that if I bring someone into a story—I don’t care if it’s just a man carrying a ladder—unless I’m interested in him then the reader can’t be. So if I’m tempted to make up a character just to save time I wait till I get there and let him make up his mind what he’s like. Now that sounds funny; impossible even. But any half-ways decent storyteller knows that as far as possible you let the characters make the decisions.”
–Rex Stout, American Author (1886-1975), Creator of Nero Wolfe Series, From Rex Stout, A Majesty’s Life by John McAleer.
How true his words are, and how fun when our characters write their story.
Rex Stout had an amazing long life, 89 years, a fifth-generation Quaker, a scholar, mathematical prodigy, founded the ETS, the Education Thrift Services, the bank savings program for school children, political activist for many causes, including racial tolerance, authors rights, and of course, a best selling author for many years. I recommend finding a copy of the 600 page award winning scholarly biography by John McAleer, published in 1977, new edition, 2002.
And he is my 7th cousin: We share grandparent ancestors, Richard Stout and Penelope (Van Princin) Stout.