M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Writers: Do Your Characters Nurture Your Writing?

  Most of the guru-speak I've read/heard talks about what writers must do for their characters. Recently, I began to wonder about what our characters should do for us. Lots of kids eventually take care of their parents as they get older.Why can't characters help writers as their series age?

  One book's a cinch...if you've got the writing chops. At the start of the series, the characters present a new land to be explored, complete with new concepts and problems. I recently exchanged reviews with a writer who came up with an intriguing new take on angel-human relationships--at least it was new to me, Amy Vansant's Angeli -- The Pirate, the Angel and the Irishman.

  The storyline traces the progress of Anne Bonney, the pirate of renown, as she becomes a Sentinel, a policeman for angels gone so bad they drain people of their energy. Yeah, she's as much of a rule breaker as a Sentinel as she was as was as an 18th century woman. 

  But there's more to like with the book: a love triangle that's announced in the title, but the book is more than a common chick-lit romance. Vansant has a rollicking sense of humor that turns the entire read into a smile-fest, even though the heros are chasing an evil bad guy or guys. I imagine sequels will have problems avoiding reruns of the same old motives, but for now the story line is a fresh as the morning sunshine after a rain. May Vansant prove me wrong. 

  Then, there's the other end of a writing career. I read several authors automatically when I find their new mass paperback editions. And sometimes, I re-read previous titles if a new one doesn't come out quickly enough. When you've written many books about the same characters, It takes true creativity to keep from recycling the same ideas over and over. Granted there has to be some overlap if a bunch of books are to be a series. The trick is in keeping the books exploring new territory.

  One of the writers who amazes me with her consistency and her inventiveness is Kay Hooper. I think I started reading her titles back in the 1990s. I'm still reading them even though she's basically a romance writer, and most romances bore me. 

  Her psychic F.B.I. agents, led by Noah Bishop, and their civilian counterpart [Haven] are a different story. I like the way Hooper plays with the supernatural even if her books tend to get repetitive. I've recently read Hostage and Haven. They are set in a new trilogy, as usual with her writing pattern, and deal with a new enemy who plots to destroy Bishop. At least that what previous nemesises have threatened to do. Hooper's achievement? She puts together a good thriller with a well-fleshed killer, usually with strong, realistic psychic abilities. 

One device Hooper uses to keep her books fresh is a romance as a sub-plot. Each book presents a new psychic couple discovering each other as they hunt down a killer. Yeah, the premise is used in hundreds of books each year. Hooper does it without putting you to sleep.

  One of the problems with a long running series is that sameness does creep in. Another negative, Bishop too often plays the role of puppet master to his investigators. Granted Hooper delivers a fun, fast paced read with lots of chills, but her ideas are starting to feel a little shop worn.
4**** for both books.


  Have been having fun with Crossings. Spent huge amounts of time submitting it to promo sites when I'd rather be writing. Truth be told. I'm still doing it. My big achievement. Crossings is up on Amazon for free at the moment.

  The results? Crossings has ranked at high as #3 in this obscure Kindle category.

When I copied it from my listings, it was #9. Surprise. Surprise. It even looks like there might be a couple sales on the chart for The Ghost in the Closet, but I doubt if they amount to a cup of coffee.

  Oh, and I even have some 5***** reviews of my own.

  Don't think I'm resting on my "best-selling" laurels though. The Ghost Crow is progressing. I'm taking my own advice and recycling Dumdie Swartz of The Ghost in the Closet. This time with a story set during her teen years -- though I don't think of it as YA. I'm maybe halfway through the first draft, and I know where I'm going.

  My Far Isles Half-Elven? They're are resting in obscurity though they sometimes appear on the first page in Goggle and Bing under the search term "Half-Elven". People even click through. How do I know? My website links are the only places where I promote The Foiling of Gorsfeld, a story set during Mariah's teen years, and it gets downloaded regularly.

Care to share how you've recycled some of your characters?

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