5 Ways to Keep the Details Straight
Erica here. Happy fall, y'all! It's COLD in Minnesota, and we've already had our first (albeit skimpy) snow.
I'm deep in editing mode on my 2023 release, Children of the Shadows, which is book three in the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series but is, in fact, book seven in the "Haverly Universe" as I call it. Seven Regency stories that all take place in the same story world with cross-over characters galore.
Over the six books and one novella, we're talking about 630,000 words! Dozens of characters and locations and hundreds, if not thousands, of details.
The question has arisen, "How do you keep it all straight?"
I have a few tips I'd love to share with you.
1. Character photographs.
I try to find a photograph of each major character, especially my heroes and heroines, so I can fix in my mind exactly what they look like. I find it much easier to describe a person I've seen than one I've just heard about. (I would share some of these photos with you, but for copyright laws regarding pictures on blogs. However, I can give you a link to one of my Pinterest boards full of handsome heroes. ...You're welcome.)
2. A Style Sheet
I keep a style sheet for each book I write, with characters, descriptions, locations, photographs, preferred spellings (curtsy vs. curtsey, etc.) and more. I turn this in with each book to aid in the editing process. I blogged here on Seekerville some time ago about how to create a Style Sheet, and you can read that post HERE.
3. A Series Master Document
My Virtual Assistant, (though since she's my daughter and I see her regularly, it's hardly virtual, is it?) Heather Drexler of Mossflower Digital Services, and I are in the process of creating a Master Document for the entire series. A spreadsheet on google docs to which we both have access that contains all the style sheet information from each book, plus anything I've forgotten along the way. Of particular import is, character descriptions and ages at the start of each story. Locations of important scenes. Where is the Haverly mansion located in London? Where did they find the first murder victim in Millstone of Doubt? How many servants work at the Whitelock estate?
*Sometimes this document is called a series bible, but I don't like that term. As far as I am concerned, there is only one Bible, the very Word of God, hence I call mine a Master Document.
4. Reuse locations and characters.
By having the above document, it is easy not to have to reinvent something I've already created? Do I need a shopkeeper in London? Why not use one I created in The Lost Lieutenant (book 1) as a character in The Debutante's Code (Book 5)? Rather than branch out all over London, set scenes in familiar locations like Mayfair or Bow Street. This doesn't mean you never bring in something new, but if you can reuse a setting or a character, it will keep the story world tighter and easier to manage.
5. Appreciate how much readers love "Easter Eggs" in stories.
An "Easter Egg" is a term from the video-gaming world that refers to something special and hidden that is discovered by true aficionados of the game. In reading, it's a reward for a dedicated reader. You can bring back something small, or someone that a new reader won't know comes from a previous story, but a dedicated reader will recognize right away. It is work, but it's worth it. Work to weave in those little prizes into your story. Readers LOVE feeling smart and 'in the know' while reading, and rewarding a dedicate reader just strengthens the reader's bond with the author and with the story. It makes the story world seem rounder, richer, and more complex. It also helps retain readers when the next book comes out!
Question for you: If you are an author, do you keep a Style Sheet for each book? If you are a reader, do you enjoy cross-over series stories?
Regency London's detective duo is back on a new case--and this one is going to be a killer
Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street Runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill's owner dead of an apparent gunshot.
Even though the owner's daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, it seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can't take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can, because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage--and his job as a runner--comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him to the fates.
Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha's bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. Still, her instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation. But circumstances intervene, dropping her into the middle of the deadly pursuit.
Best-selling, award-winning author, Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/inspirationalregencyreaders where she spends way too much time!