Writing Tyler Brannigan’s story as the next in the series was my editor’s idea. Although some of the scenes featuring him didn’t make it to the final cut of New York’s Finest Rebel, he stood out enough during revisions for her to want to see him get his comeuppance. And rightly so, too; to say Tyler was cocky would be a HUGE understatement.
One of the things I love most about linked stories, both as a reader and a writer, is how the world can expand with each additional book. By the time I got to Tyler’s story I knew a lot about his family history, some of their quirks, their love of interfering and (obviously) how both his younger brother and sister had met their partners. Certain things were set in stone; Sunday lunch at the family house in Staten Island, the Brannigan brothers as cops, their Monday night poker games-they’re all part of the continuity. Each story must stand alone, but with each new addition the readers of a series can build a more complete world in their mind. So with Tyler’s story I get to expand on what already exists while at the same time delving deeper into his corner of the world.
What I knew going in gave me a good starting point and plenty of secondary characters to use if I need them. In this story, he’s a detective with vice but after blotting his copy book one time too many with his superiors he’s been punished with a temporary reassignment and he’s none too happy about it. In order to get back to where he needs to be he has to protect the mayor’s daughter and keep her out of trouble during her father’s election campaign.
Miranda couldn’t be more different from Tyler if she tried. She’s led a privileged lifestyle (think of reality shows featuring rich kids and the likes of Gossip Girl and you’re on the right track) but in many ways is similar to a princess trapped in a gilded cage. Much of her life has revolved around a sense of duty to her family, so in order to balance things out she has found ways to escape and have fun. This may have caused several headaches for her security detail over the years but she’s not prepared to give up those small tastes of freedom, particularly when she’s given a new bodyguard who is determined to keep her in line. Suffice to say there's a lot of cat-and-mouse in this one.
So far the story is proving to be a lot of fun, even if the word-count is a tad slower than I need it to be. I think some of the problem was how difficult it has been to connect with the characters. On the outside neither of them are quite what they seem and while it’s gradually leading to a lot of quick-fire dialogue, there’s a fine line to tread while writing. If I’ve found them difficult to connect with then there’s a danger the reader will feel the same way. But at the same time if I give away too much at the start, it will dilute some of the impact of the reveals as we get further in. There used to be a time when I flew through the beginning of a book and slowed when I got to the middle. Any problems were then sorted out with edits after I got to the end and knew the characters better. Nowadays the beginning has to be close to perfect before I can move on. It’s like the foundation of a house, I suppose. Get that part right and theoretically everything you build on top of it is more solid. At least now I can say I know where I’m going and scenes are forming in my mind quicker than they did before. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Deadline is Valentine’s Day so for the next few weeks there’ll be a lot of time spent in the cave.
Next week I think I’ll chat a bit about craft and the beginning of a story. I’m on the last leg of the re-vamp of my website and when I have another five minutes (insert manic laughter) will be going through some of the workshops and writing themed blogs I’ve done over the years in order to decide what to keep on the Writers Tips page. Simple fact is how I write has changed and while a lot of the ‘rules’ remain the same, how I approach things isn’t. It’s that whole ‘writers never stop learning thing’, isn’t it? With that in mind I’ll chat about some of the things the ‘new me’ has learned.
If you have any questions about the beginnings of stories or things you love/hate to read in the opening chapter or problems you want to brainstorm, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to cover them next week.
See you then!