The Days After

Hope you all (in the US) enjoyed your Thanksgiving occasion without too much politicking, eating of yummy stuff, and shopping.
Ugh. Shopping. I’m an armchair shopper; you couldn’t pay me enough to battle the masses for in-store deals.
Well, okay, if I was getting a free shopping spree or something I’d manage.
I’ve got both Thanksgiving Day and the infamous “Black Friday” off of work as paid holidays (Yay!!) My son is home from college, my daughter has no school, and I didn’t have to cook for Turkey Day. I had two things that I wanted to take¬†BF pricing advantage of.
There. Shopping done–for now. The kids haven’t gotten their lists together yet. I’ve got an extended weekend to catch up on stuff. I should clean… Um, I’m sure I have a reason to procrastinate on that.
Just before Turkey Day I sent my revised WIP to the agent who requested the revise and resubmit.
Hurry up and wait. And pray. And cross my fingers.
Now what? Dig into another book that needs revision? Which one? Another romantic mystery? My contemporary fantasy? Oh, I know. I need to come up with ideas for more books using my WIP characters (suggested by said agent).
I never thought about more adventures with those characters. My detective mystery, yes–I’ve got the next three books drafted. This one, though, not so much. Maybe I just haven’t gone that far yet; I’ve been focusing on polishing this installment.
I love the characters, and I love the setting and the premise, but I honestly never thought much beyond this book, though in the back of my mind I knew the possibility existed that I’d need to come up with something more for them.
No time like the present.
Sometimes stories start out as multiple episodes, like my detective series. But what if the story doesn’t start out that way? How do you come up with additional adventures for your characters?
Brainstorm! *sets up the brainstorming wall*
Yep. *looks around for colorful brain clouds amassing for a deluge* Uh-huh. *searches the horizon* O-kay. Any time, now.
I got nothin’.
Now what? You created the characters, breathed life into them, put them through conflicts and trials and heartache and, eventually, success of some sort. They survive to the end of the story, and you wish them good luck and move on to another story with other characters.
Except you need to go back to those characters, knock on their doors, and present them with a new itinerary.
Granted, nothing is for sure in this business, but it doesn’t hurt to be proactive. So, how does one go about creating more adventures for characters you love but just didn’t expect to spend more time with?
Everyone’s process is different. I know the appeal of my characters lies in their professions and the setting, so those are good places to start. My main protagonist works in the aviation industry, something I think people will want to read about, so I need to stick with that. Airports. Air shows. Air museums. Air guitars–er, maybe not. My other character is in law enforcement, so that falls naturally into a mystery.
My characters are developed, so I can shortcut that a bit, even though each adventure should encourage them to change a little. Now what? I need at least one dead body, multiple suspects, and a solid motive. The victim and/or the suspects and/or the culprit should have some sort of tie to the main characters. There needs to be conflict. My main characters have to be threatened somehow, have to have an “all hope is lost” moment, and need to come out on top in the end.
I cracked open a fresh notebook for the project, a two-subject one so I can use each section for a different story. And stared at the blank page.
So I started with the setting. I figured if I could at least give myself a starting point, I’d have something to work with. Then I added the big 6: Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why. Then started throwing ideas at the brainstorming wall.
p_20161126_073605_cr The more I tossed ideas around, the more that stuck to the wall as possibilities for the new story. I’m up to five pages of ideas, and the plot is starting to coalesce. I’ve got the tie to my main character, another source of conflict for the main character that leaked in from my WIP, and multiple suspects.
It’s starting to look a lot like a novel-in-the-making. Once I have the story figured out, I can do a rough outline, or (heaven forbid!) a synopsis (cue the spooky music and evil laughter).
Ugh.
Then I can dive into a first draft. I see another self-imposed NaNo month in my future. Maybe February.
How do you come up with “the further adventures of” for characters who didn’t start out starring in more than one book? Days of intense brainstorming? Afternoon walks through the woods? People-watching at the mall?
Enjoy your weekend, and get writing!

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