Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tangling Up Characters In A Series

Many of you may know when I wrote Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, I had no idea it would be the first book in The Wilding Series. Once I wrote the sequel to Harmonica Joe, For Love of Banjo, one of my all-time favorite characters got his own story. More than that, I realized I couldn’t let go of these characters. Since that time I’ve written more stories about the ever growing Wilding clan. It’s fun bringing back my favorite characters in new stories, but there is a down side to writing a series. How the heck can I keep up with who married who, who had what kids, what year were these kids born, and what color were their eyes and hair, and what characteristics held them apart from the rest?

These details are nothing to sneeze at. If Banjo has brown eyes in one story and blue in another, you can pretty much predict, a reader is going to catch it. It wouldn’t be a good thing to make such a mistake because believability is only part of what might be at stake. Such a discrepancy might tell the reader that I don’t really care about my characters—even worse, that I have lost my integrity as a writer. So no mistakes. Everybody has to have their own eye and hair color and be parented by the same parents they had in the last story when they first appeared.
My Wildings Notebook and Family Tree

You may wonder how I keep track of all my crazy Wildings? Well, for one thing, I keep a notebook in which I write all the details about the characters, including secondary characters.   You never know when you might have to take one of those secondary characters and make them a lead hero or heroine. Lucille Thoroughgood was once a secondary character in Unexpected Blessings, and her mother, Penelope Thoroughgood, was only mentioned in For Love of Banjo. Penelope ended up with her own story in When Love Comes Knocking. Just to keep straight who is married to whom and how, or if, someone is related, I created my own version of a family tree. I learned quickly that I am not good at making a family tree look coherent, so my version is a bit different from those beautiful family trees done by genealogy experts. No matter. Mine works for me.
To check out all my Wildings books, click on The Wildings

For those of you who write a series, what are your methods for keeping up with your characters? When you read books in a series, have you ever caught a mistake regarding a character? If you did, what did you think of the author? Were you forgiving, or did you stop reading that authors books?