Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Hold on to your hats!

You heard it here first: I’m considering doing a series – complete with series characters. Actually, it's worse than that: I am about to put pen to paper.

What? Blechta who swore up and down he never wanted to be constrained by something like that is now coming over to the dark side?

Yes, it’s true – and I’m not even in a drunken stupor. It started with another prod, this time by my agent. It’s not as if I haven’t been pressed about this sort of thing before. My former publisher used to ask about this every time I submitted a manuscript. “Won’t you do a series? People like series, you know.” She was actually quite nice about it. I explained that since I always had musicians as at least one of the main characters in my full-length novels, it struck me as nearly unbelievable that a drummer – to use an example – would wander through life plying his trade while also repeatedly stumbling over dead bodies. If I felt that way, how would readers feel? I need them to buy into what I’m writing. I want my stories to seem natural and real. Cops can be expected to see dead bodies. Private investigators, too, but not gigging musicians. To suggest anything of the kind is pretty ludicrous. I wasn’t about to do that to anyone picking up one of my novel. So my fall-back position was “music was my series character.” To also help, I developed a stable of supporting characters who wander into several of my stories for various plausible reasons. Doesn’t that constitute series characters of a sort?

Apparently not. So Robert made the case very strongly for me to seriously reconsider the whole idea.

As a sidebar, it seems that my Orca Rapid Reads novellas have developed into a series all on their own. That was more my publisher/editor there deciding that, since I had two books with the same main characters, I was writing a series. I guess he saw the handwriting on the wall before moi. (I can be really dense at times.) I’ve since thrown gasoline on the fire by submitting a proposal for the third book in my (gulp) series, and guess what? It doesn’t have any musical component in it! That’s the first time that’s ever happened.

So now I’m going to also do the same for my full-length novels. There will still be a bit of musical component, but my projected main characters are definitely not professional musicians, nor do they have anything to do with the music biz — at least for the first book in the series.

Having spoken to/heard from many authors that they wish they’d thought a little harder about the characters they’ve come to live with for two dozen books in a couple of cases, I decided it was in my best interest to not make the same sort of mistake. Consequently, I’ve spent the past two months poking into the lives of the two people I could wind up spending nearly as much time with as my loved ones. That’s produced pages of outline material on who they are and back story to explain how they became that way. My goal is to give myself possible routes to follow in order to develop subsequent stories. My problem is am I giving them enough of this?

Through it all I’m constantly worrying about the large step off the high cliff I’m about to take and wondering if I’m doing the right thing in the first place.

Special Announcement!

Tomorrow’s blog post (Barbara, I believe) will be the 2000th on Type M! That’s a pretty amazing milestone for “the little blog that could”. Many thanks to everyone who has posted here since June 2007. Has it really been nearly seven years?


James Bailey said...

Interesting things afoot, Rick - or, as a podiatrist might put it, interesting thing a foot. Looking forward to the 20th.

Rick Blechta said...

I sure hope there is a 20th! You might have to wait a bit, though, James.

Eileen Goudge said...

I've written both series and stand-alones. The interesting thing about series is, in general,readers don't seem bothered the frequency of dead bodies turning up (even if the protagonist isn't a cop or P.I.) Miss Marple is proof that a mystery series need not be entirely believable to be enduring.

Rick Blechta said...

Yeah, but I have trouble suspending disbelief in that sort of situation. To my mind, it sort of trivializes what is a pretty horrific thing. That's just my feeling, though, and it's also my choice to choose not to do that. You can believably have a character be involved with a crime/murder a couple of times, maybe three, but more than that? Sorry. It just doesn't work for me.

I never enjoyed the Miss Marple stories or, for example, Murder She Wrote for just that reason. Many readers/viewers don't mind it (the numbers don't lie), so that's great. Chacun à son goût.