Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

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 takeΒ 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).


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!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

8 thoughts on “The Days After

  1. I don’t have any “real” books… but I have wanted to take my own characters into another story… and I truly have no idea how. But this post gave me a few ideas. So I have nothing to add… but I appreciate what you’ve written here. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can relate, Julie, to the difficulty turning a stand-alone into a series. I haven’t been able to do it yet. They’re either one or the other. I guess the key is brainstorming because it sounds like something is turning up in that notebook. Glad you had a great Thanksgiving. Good luck on your submission!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana! Once I started thinking about “what if”, ideas started coming. My reunion with my writing sisters isn’t until next summer, otherwise I’d tap in to that vast supply of ideas. It’s amazing what can happen when a group of writers gets together πŸ™‚ !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie, first congratulations on sending you book out to your agent and fingers crossed for a great respsone. Yeah…already keen to write on – I just have to ask do you have many draft books you’ve written waiting for revisions?! Wow! I love following your thinking process for a new book and absolutely a new notebook. As for ideas…walks and oddily showers work well for me! Sometimes I have visions of standing under a giant waterfall with magnificent ideas cascading down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika! I’ve got a number of drafted books on tap, and one I “drafted” about three times before I realized it was actually two separate stories, one of which developed into my WIP. Ooo, an idea waterfall–love it! Now add in tropical greenery, blue skies, and an umbrella drink or two, with the requisite handsome server.

      Um, sorry for the distraction πŸ˜‰ Have a great rest of your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I’m late but I’m here! The holiday, Black Friday shopping (yes I went) and this #^@&! deadline on Point Pleasant book 3 have kept me off line. I love the idea of starting a new project, whether something completely drawn from scratch or a continuation of characters you love. I’m envious of your blank page and brainstorming. Go for it, I say! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    I’m almost to that point. Once I put book 3 to bed the end of this month, I can start looking at something new. I’m juggling three ideas and one of them concerns a secondary character in PP who could easily spin off into his own series. And his last name starts with an “E” LOL. Now, if I could just do something about curtailing those pub crawls with a certain someone’s muse.

    Happy Sunday! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL!! I told my Muse to leave Mr. E alone until you made your deadline. Dammit, I knew he was sneaking out. πŸ˜€ You ventured out into the Black Friday morass? You are much braver than I πŸ™‚ I’m almost done with the initial brainstorming for more stories with my MCs, then I think I might dig back into another mystery I’ve drafted and redrafted about three times. I’ve written a new outline for it, so it’s just a matter of redrafting. Again. Then back to these characters. Or whatever works πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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