Friday, November 08, 2013

My Car Problem

In my last post, I wrote about the revision process. I'm revising the first draft of the second novel in my new series -- and I have a car problem. My cops are spending a lot of time driving to and from interviews with witnesses and suspects. Yes, I know that rule about leaving out the movement from place to place that readers can fill in for themselves. But the problem is that my detectives like to discuss the case as they are driving from place to place. They insist on doing it. Just as they insist on talking as they are leaving an interview and walking back to their vehicle. They get in the car, and they keep talking. I could cut away -- but then the reader would miss some pretty important conversations. So there we are, riding around town in whatever car they happen to draw from the police garage, and they're talking about the case, not last night's game.

I have two choices: (1) declaring discussions about the case off-limits when they're in the car, or (2) going with the flow and letting them talk. I've decided to go with the flow. They're worked out a rhythm. It works for them. It works for me. We're getting a lot of investigating done. 

The other aspect of this is that one of my detectives -- Mike Baxter -- loves cars. He's a classic car buff. He loves it when they draw one of the high tech vehicles that the police department has purchased. Since neither his partner, Hannah McCabe, nor I is interested in cars, we were only half-listening to what he was saying. Then Baxter had a terrific car-related idea that was a turning point in the investigation. 

I know I sound as if he thought of this on his own. The truth is that he seemed to. I was wondering why on earth I made the mistake of making him a car buff in the first book. Anyway, just when I was regretting that decision about Baxter and cars, he came up with an idea that would not have occurred to McCabe. Well, it might have -- she's smart -- but it would have taken her a lot longer to get there.  

I think that we give our characters interests and habits knowing that someday they may prove useful. But it is disconcerting when a character decides to have an interest -- for example, cars -- when we know nothing about that interest. I suspect that I'm going to have to learn more than I'd care to about cars. I've already had to find out whether the 1967 Ford Mustang came in maroon. 

While I still have the chance, in this second book in the series, I'm trying to think of a really intriguing interest that McCabe could have -- something I'd enjoy learning about. Baxter is into cars. Another detective, Pettigrew, is a baseball fan. McCabe -- my protagonist --isn't speaking up. But maybe something will occur to me today as I'm driving to Massachusetts for the New England Crime Bake. I wish I had Baxter along to drive while I read a book. But he would be unimpressed by my gray four-door sedan and grumble all the way. 

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