What I'm reading: Damaged, by Debra Webb
Don’t forget – there’s plenty of time to leave a comment on Phoebe Conn’s Tuesday post to be entered in her drawing. I’ll wait while you scroll down.
Meanwhile, I’m over at The Romance Studio at a release party today. I’ll be in and out all day. If you’re so inclined, pop on over. I’m talking about WHERE DANGER HIDES, and I’m giving away a download of WHEN DANGER CALLS.
When writing series or connected books, there are some extra considerations, such as handling back story and keeping track of characters. And sometimes, it can get you into trouble.
For example, in WHEN DANGER CALLS, I needed Ryan to be able to get into the Blackthorne’s fancy computer system, even though he’d technically quit. It made no sense for a company like Blackthorne to have conveniently forgotten to shut down his access. (that would have been one of those handy “coincidences” I talked about in an earlier post) So, I simply gave Ryan a throwaway line:
“I sort of borrowed a login from a buddy. His fault—I kept telling Grinch to pick a smarter password than his kid's name and birthday."
So, when it became time to write Grinch’s story, I was stuck with the child. And due to other plot considerations, I gave him a dog as well. While it’s one thing to have a throwaway line, once a character is on the page, be it human or animal, it becomes your responsibility.
If you’re going to introduce a character, you have to be ready to consider where he will be even when he’s not on the page. Make it a child (or a dog) and you have other considerations, because they require tending. You can’t simply send them off to work, or leave them alone in the house all day. They have to be fed, walked, whatever.
I recently read a book where the inciting incident in the first chapter involved an abused animal. The heroine rescued it and brought it to an expert. We saw the hero agree to try to undo the damage, and a brief scene where he assessed the animal. However it was over a hundred pages—maybe closer to two—before we saw him working the animal again. Since caring for the animal was the sole reason hero and heroine got together, I kept wondering what was happening. And several weeks had passed, so it wasn’t a matter of a lot of other stuff going on in a short period of time.
When I use my tracking board, I try to put up Post-its for clues and when secondary characters appear in scenes, so I know whether I’ve dropped a thread. It’s important to make sure you don’t lose track of what, or who, is important. If it happens to be a pet, and you find you’ve neglected it, then find a way to remind yourself of its existence.
Tomorrow we’re going to Loveland, Colorado for a classic car show. And you know that because it’s Jason taking the pictures, they’re going to be something special. Come back!