Beginning a New Book and Getting Acquainted with the Characters

When I begin any new mystery, whether it be a Deputy Tempe Crabtree set in the mountains or in Rocky Bluff, I usually start with the murder. Not always, there have been exceptions, but usually.

My Rocky Bluff series is next, so I've been thinking about who to murder and why and who all might have wanted this particular person dead. As soon as I had that worked out in my mind, it was time to figure out things about these characters.

First, I need names that fit them. I have lots of ways to picking names. I save graduation programs or anything that has a lot of names printed in them. There's also the Internet if there is a certain ethnic name I'd like to have. Rocky Bluff is on the coast of California where there might be someone from almost any ethnic background, though the predominate culture, other than the mongrel mix of the white race, is Hispanic. (I can get away with saying that because I'm from that mongrel mix--English, Scotch, Dutch, Irish. And since my husband is mainly English, Welsh and Indian, our children are truly a mix.)

Next is figuring out what people look like and giving the identifying characteristics--height, weight, facial features, hair color, eyes--if important, and individual quirks. I have to write everything down so I don't mix them up as I'm writing. The more I write, the more familiar and real they'll become to me.

Of course in the Rocky Bluff series there is already an ensemble cast and I must continue what has been going on their lives--that's what my readers expect. Is Officer Gordon Butler ever going to find true love? Is he still going to get the worst crimes to investigate? There is more but I don't dare say because it will give away what's happening in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel coming out in 2013.

And as a big hint, there is another big change coming in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Something that will cause some big problems.

I haven't even written one word yet, except handwritten notes, but that's where I'm headed.

F.M. aka Marilyn Meredith


Lorna Collins - said…
I only know I'm on the right track when they start talking to me. Once I hear them, I know who they are. But it's when they refuse to do what I want them to that I know for sure they've moved out of my head into that in-between space where they exist on their own. At that point, I just write down what they tell me they're doing.

Yes, we writers are a strange breed.
Jake said…
Great knowing how your story progresses from notes to book. Looking forward to reading another one of your books.
I can't wait to the new book you're working on comes out. I love your work!!
Yes, it helps when the characters tell you what they are doing and why. Thanks for your comment, Lorna.

The one your name is in, Jake, comes out early 2013, I'm writing the one form 2014.

Thanks, John, like I just said, there will be a new one next year--but it's not what I'm working on now.
Margaret Bates said…
I love hearing your thought processes, all of you. I write poetry, and first, I get a metaphor in my head that represents my idea, and then I begin. I once wrote a poem about the process of creatind a piece of poetry and likened it to a gestation and then birth, as a thing that stands like progeny, even after I am no longer.

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