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?
Life is what it is and, despite the SF story I read some time back, we don’t get do-overs. We are NOT the authors of our fate because there are others involved and they have just as much claim to POV and protagonist status as we do.
Do-overs pose interesting philosphocal questions on a lot of fronts! Especially once you add in how they would impact others!
If I went back and changed something, would I still end up here? I’m in the best place and don’t want to change that even if my life might have been easier along the way by changing something years ago.
What a wonderful way of looking at things, Gram!
I’m with Jessie. Haven’t come across anything I’d change – yet. My critique group really makes me think about things. That said, I’m sure it will happen if I’m lucky enough to get to keep writing.
Those yets can keep you up at night, can’t they? Congrats on your satisfaction thus far!
The one thing I would do differently is to go to college, instead of getting married right out of high school.
That is a big one, Deb!
I’m with Gram on this one. Sure, there are things that would have been better, at the time, if done differently, but my life now would be different, too. I love life just as it is and the mistakes I made have made me a better person.
I love your perspective, Ginny!
About twenty-three years ago there was an extremely upsetting event in my life. If it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have most of the frienda I have now. They are gems. And now that I think of it, most of my dearest friends are people I met, directly or indirectly, because of one of those circumstances where you make lemonade out of the lemons life threw at you.
What a great way to look at a difficult event, Deb! Here’s to lemonade!
I am now 62 years of age. If I could go back to 12-13, I would make a better plan to go to college and select a firm major. I would also work harder to slim down so I am not dealing with the health issues I have today. When I was growing up I had no one to guide me and so I have stumbled and failed in so many ventures. The only thing I succeeded in was marrying the man I did and raising two beautiful children. Those things I would not trade.
It sounds like you are lucky in the family you have created! That is really a thing to cherish!
robeader, I hear you. I have two years on you and the same thoughts go though my head. I missed many boats but how can I say that my sons and grandkids should not be here?We had a path that we needed to walk.
I’m not sure there is much I would go back and change. But I am the world’s most indecisive person, so I reserve the right to change my mind on that later.
And that is another reason I’d make a lousy author. I’d make a decision about a character and then second guess myself. And third guess. And fourth guess.
Having to make choices about the work is one of the most difficult things for me at times, Mark. From character traits to order of scenes to small work choices the decisions add up!
I write and I can tell you that I enjoyed reading this, because I firmly believe in learning from other people’s experiences, (and mistakes).
Thank you to Barb for using the name Doris!
LOL! Doris starts off as a bit of a mean girl character, but by the end, I think we see her good sides and motivation.
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