Two of my friends are serious gardeners. Each year, they kneel before their flower beds and impose their will on them. They dig up clumps of daylilies and break them apart, so that they don’t overcrowd. They weed and thin plants that have spread where they’re not supposed to. And their flowerbeds look organized and thriving. There are spaces between Japanese irises and bee balm, between columbine and hostas. Everything is orderly.
I’m in short supply of this kind of discipline. My flowerbed is a testimony to survival of the fittest. Myrtle eats daisies. Phlox reseed themselves at will. If a plant lives and reaches for the sun, I’m happy with it, can’t bear to yank it up and tell it that it shouldn’t be there.
The same thing’s happened to my writing lately. If an idea comes and clamors for attention, it gets it. I tap my computer keys and bring it to life. But I’m a fan of series. If I fall in love with a character–like Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, or Sharon Ashwood’s The Dark Forgotten–I buy every book until I run out.
When I first started writing paranormal, I had no idea what would work for me. So I dabbled in a little bit of everything. I combined mysteries with ghosts and serial killers with vampires. But just like my flower bed, novels and novellas began jostling into one another, all stand alones with main characters struggling to poke their heads above the crowd to survive. It’s time to bring more order, time to thin my ideas out, to start writing sequels and let my characters grow. And hopefully, then, they’ve thrive.
(With a few novellas tossed in here and there. A girl can’t be too structured.)