It’s fun to be surprised…usually

I’ve started writing a new book for a new series. Which means, for me, lots of planning ahead. This is an ongoing mystery series, so there’s no over-arcing question that starts in book one and ends at the last book in the series. That’s how D. L. Cross wrote her sci-fi Astral Conspiracy series–which was awesome. It’s how Ilona Andrews wrote her Kate Daniels series–maybe one of my favorites of all time. And it’s how C.S. Boyack is writing his Lanternfish series. Even though Ilona Andrews recently came out with a new spin-off book from Kate Daniels, which makes me REALLY happy. And even though I’d love it if C.S. Boyack thought of spin-offs for his books, especially if any of them involved Serang. BUT, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m writing a series with recurring characters and hopefully, no end in sight. I’m hoping Karnie finds lots and lots of mysteries to solve for a long time.

My daughter hates the name Karnie. HH wasn’t crazy about it at first, but it’s grown on him. But I picked the name for a reason. Karnie’s dad is a butcher, and she works in his shop. Her dad’s last name is Cleaver, and he considers his career his destiny. He named his first=born son Porter because he loved Porterhouse steaks. His second son is named Chuck after chuck roasts. And Karnie, unfortunately, is short for carnivore. She’s not happy about it, but it’s not like she got a vote on it. Her dad has a quirky sense of humor, and what can she do? She will be Karnie Cleaver until the day she marries, which she hopes is never.

Both boys worked in the back of the shop, cutting meat. Karnie works the counter and spends a decent amount of time answering customers’ questions about how to cook the meats they buy. But even though the shop is a family operation, Porter was always the “golden boy.” Everything came easy for him. He’s tall and handsome. He’s smart and good at sports. And his parents always compared Chuck and Karnie to him, and they always fell short.

But Porter believed what his parents told him and thought of himself as too good to stick around. He moved to Florida and opened a seafood market of his own. He’s been successful. He hasn’t come home to visit since he left. His family and hometown are too “small” for him. He deserves more.

And that’s how I wrote him. Until….Karnie’s working at the shop, and in he walks. I didn’t have his return in my plot points. I didn’t expect it. But he’s broken up with his latest girlfriend–someone he actually stuck with for a while–and when she leaves, he wants a break. So, he comes home.

I love it when characters surprise me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m anal about my plot points. NO character can change the direction of my main storyline. But they can act out as long as the main plot points don’t change. And believe me, they DO. And I never see it coming. But doggone it, it WORKS. Porter being Porter only makes my storyline stronger. I just didn’t see it coming.

Someday, I’m going to have to focus on Mr. Big Ego Brother, but not in this book. In book one, he can just upset everyone’s comfort zone and then move on. Back to Florida. And his fish market, and the next girl. Because he’s shallow. But he was raised by great parents and a loving family, and someday, he’ll get smart. Maybe. At least, I hope so.

The take away? I’m not even through the first quarter of my new book, and the characters are being demanding. What can I say? Sometimes, I only think I’m in charge. No, I AM in charge, but sometimes, my characters don’t listen to me!

Exert yourself. Show your characters who’s boss. And happy writing!

14 thoughts on “It’s fun to be surprised…usually

  1. I love the excitement behind this post. I’m starting to introduce recurring, or possibly recurring, characters in my other series now. I like the expansion of that world, and I can retrieve those characters if it makes sense. Thanks for the nod. (Oh, and Serang does have her own book.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. On behalf of my alter ego, thanks for the shout-out.

    I loved this post. I never used to understand writers who said their characters took over and “did” things. I wrote an outline and stuck to it. Now I have characters doing their own things all the time, to the point that my outlines need to be amended to accommodate their actions. It can be inconvenient, but it always works out for the best in the end. (In the middle, things are ugly. You wouldn’t want to walk in on my tantrums.) I’m not sure exactly when the shift took place, but I get it now.

    I hope Porter doesn’t give you too much trouble. But I can’t wait to see how it all ends up. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I can’t wait to meet these characters, Judi. They sound great, and I can tell you’re enthusiastic about their story/stories. I positively love when characters do unexpected things. When it happens to me (which it does a lot), I have a favorite line I always fall back on—“Who know? Certainly not the author!” 🙂
    Happy writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of these days I’ll get to read it. Yay! Love the idea of a woman wielding a butcher knife and knowing how to cut up a side of beef. Got the instructions how to do it but never dared.

    Liked by 1 person

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