by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
I’ve now written several books in two different series where I took my series characters on the road.
There were a few different reasons I wanted to do this. For one, I feel like it can be a good way to keep a series fresh for both readers and the writer. For one book, I particularly wanted to write a ‘manor house’ style mystery where the setting is confined to one, isolated spot (with a murderer in the group). For another book, I thought it would be an interesting hook to set the story at a place my protagonist despises: Greener Pastures Retirement Home.
My editor for the manor house story was leery about the idea. She said that readers tend to like their characters to stay in the same setting. I agree–that’s usually what I like as a reader, too. But I managed with that story to take many of the story characters with me (making it as believable as I could).
With the retirement home mystery, the setting wasn’t far from the characters’ usual home base. This allowed regular interaction between the main characters and some of the recurring ones.
But this time for my last Myrtle Clover book, I decided to try something different. Reader reviews were mixed on the series road trips. I did a good deal of planning for Crusing for Murder and the reviews have been much better. Readers have actually particularly mentioned in reviews that they enjoyed the change of scenery and pace (this is also book 10 in the series, so maybe they were ready for a change).
Differences this time:
I started and ended the book with the characters at home visiting with recurring characters who aren’t going on the road trip.
I had the recurring, non-trip characters ‘check in’ with my sleuth while she was gone. Myrtle checked her emails and even had some written messages (mysterious ones) left in her luggage by a friend.
I kept as many series tropes as I possibly could. Myrtle and Miles are insomniacs so I used it on the ship to help them run into various suspects. Myrtle puts out garden gnomes to irritate her son when he annoys her and I found a way to work that in.
I kept the location moving. Previously, I’d centered my “road trip stories” on a single location: an isolated house cut off by a storm, and a retirement home. Putting my characters on a cruise meant that I could keep the setting more entertaining for readers who might be disappointed not to have the story located in the characters’ hometown.
Have you taken your series characters on a road trip? How did you make that process easier on your readers? Do you like it when your favorite show or book series takes characters on the road?Tips for taking your series characters on a road trip: Click To Tweet