character, Fatal Forgery, plotting, Samuel Plank, The Man in the Canary Waistcoat, Worm in the Blossom
When you have lemons, make lemonade – and when there’s sleet and cold outside, write “Plank 4”. Thanks to the entirely untempting Cambridge weather today, I have managed a massive 2,697 words.
Something I have been mulling recently is repeat characters and how much to repeat about them. For instance, today I was working on a chapter where Sam goes to see his friend John Wontner, the keeper of Newgate gaol. Wontner has appeared in all three previous books, and he’s a very handy sounding board for Sam, working, as he does, alongside serious criminals every day. But do I need to describe him every time? I am very keen for each book to stand alone, as I think it’s unfair to expect people to buy more than one book – I can’t insist that everyone starts with “Fatal Forgery” and works their way through them in order. But for people who do do that – and I love you all – is it irritating to read descriptions again? I do try to vary them, and sometimes I give more detail (for instance, in “FF” and “Blossom” you are told why Wontner has a wooden leg, whereas in “Canary” and “Plank 4” you are simply told that he has a wooden leg), but I worry that readers will roll their eyes because they know all of this. The compromise I am working with at the moment is that you’ll get a very short bit of character intro each time, and then the actual relationships are allowed to grow with each book – so I don’t say in each book that Wontner is one of Sam’s closest friends, but if you read them all, you’ll get the idea.
Perhaps make a list of returning characters and the new important characters at the end of the book? Some other writers do this, and I always find it helpful. I mess up names totally… For the rest, I am just wishing for sun. I admire that you can work so well with this dreary weather.
That’s an interesting idea, Claire. I’m already gathering my usual glossary of unusual terms, then we’ll have a map from “Plank 4” onwards, and someone else suggested an author’s note to say which bits are real and which bits are made up – this might be a much thicker book this time round!
Best wishes from Susan