Jessie: In New Hampshire, working away on the outline for her next book!
As I have been working on plotting my next Beryl and Edwina mystery I have been giving a lot of thought to the world I have already created with this series. All this mulling got me to thinking about things that are already established and how they impact those things yet to come. So I wondered if any of you have aspects of your work you wish you could go back to the drawing board about? Given the benefit of experience is there anything you would change about the way you have set up your fictional worlds or the inhabitants of them?
Barb: I’m laughing about this because it’s something I’ve thought about a lot lately. For one thing, I wouldn’t give series characters names that end in the letter s, like Chris and Gus, because it creates a mess with possessives. Chris’s. Gus’s. See what I mean? I must be a glutton for punishment, because the non-Clambake book I just wrote has a character named Doris. She’s only in the one book, but, sheesh. I also wouldn’t give characters non-gender-specific names, like Julia’s boyfriend Chris or local cop Jamie. I’m always having to work a pronoun or physical description into the first mention so new readers don’t get wildly off the track. Finally, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t call Main Street in my little town Maine Street. That would have been so easy, and yet I missed it!
Julie: Barb, I hear you on the “s” names. In my current WIP I have Gladys. I’d love to rename her, but she’s a Gladys. I’m writing my third series now, and I’ve made the town of Goosebush a little more complicated than I should have. After three towns, I should know better. I have a rough map, but I placed it on the south shore of Massachusetts, and I’ve realized I have reconstructed the south shore of Massachusetts. One of the nice things about three series is that I’ve learned to slow down the romance and ramp up the mystery, and that’s paying off.
Sherry: I would have made Sarah a little bit younger than 38 and if I’d known the series would go beyond three books, I might have ended the third book differently. And I probably would end the fourth one differently too. It has a huge cliff hanger about Sarah’s personal life and some people didn’t like it.
Jessie: Even though I posed the question I don’t think there is anything I would change yet for my Beryl and Edwina books. I am certain something will arise eventually but the series is still new enough that I think I am in a honeymoon period with it all!
Edith: Like Jessie, I wouldn’t change anything about my Country Store Mysteries, and I think I’ve mostly avoided the S-name problem, LOL. I still need to be more meticulous about recording recurring information in my Characters file. At six books and counting in one series, I’m constantly going back and trying to remember what car that person drives or what color eyes somebody has. I try to jot down everything – police uniform color, the address of the country store, what kind of sheep Aunt Adele raises – but yesterday I had to copy all six and a half manuscripts into one file so I could search once instead of six times!
Readers, if you could go back to the drawing board in your own lives where what would you change or improve?