Book two in my mystery series, Case of the Curious Crystals is now available. I’ve drafted book 3 and will start revisions next week, so I’ll figure out then how much work it needs and that will tell me when it’s likely to come out.
One thing I didn’t realize until I’d written drafts of two books is that the series is really about home and community and the threats to that community. At the beginning of the series, Lexie is looking for a home and a community. She’s never really had a hometown, but thanks to her addiction to Hallmark movies, she has an idea in mind of what the ideal hometown would be, and she thinks she’s found it. In book one, the threat is that pesky little murder case that might mean she won’t get the job that allows her to stay there. In book two, the theft ring is shaking up the town and keeping it from being the place she’s come to love. In book three, Lexie’s own place in the community is being threatened.
Oddly enough, it was Disney movies that gave me that realization. I think I was watching one of those Disney sing along at home specials and singing along (as you do), when I remembered the idea of the “I Want” song. I don’t think they were consciously doing it in the Classic era, but in the modern Disney era, they’re very specific about that song at the beginning of the movie in which the main character sings about the thing they want, even before the actual plot has kicked in. So we have Snow White singing about wanting that prince to come, Sleeping Beauty singing about wanting to find someone to love her, Alice wanting a world of her own, Ariel wanting to be where the people are, Belle wanting adventure and someone who gets her, etc. It’s a good writing tip to think about what your character’s “I Want” song would be about if your story got made into a Disney musical.
And I realized that was what I was missing. I didn’t have a strong “I Want” for Lexie, but then when I started re-reading, I figured out that it was already there. I just had to make it stronger in the first book. I had to do a lot of rewriting in the second book because in the original draft, she was waffling about whether or not she wanted to stay in town. That really wasn’t working, and it was when I shifted that perspective that I suddenly had an emotional through-line, where she wanted to stay and she loved the place, but it was being threatened. That gave her an emotional reason to want to solve the case.
It makes plotting each subsequent book easier when I think about how the case could threaten the sense of home she’s found.