With the best will in the world when I begin another Diamond and Doran Mysteries book I always have every intention of knowing roughly where the story will go and who will be in it, but after four Diamond and Doran Mysteries and two Drew McMillan Case Files it’s pretty clear that every book has a life and will of its own.
By the time a Diamond and Doran Mysteries book is completed the cast of characters has usually grown from the dozen or so I planned to use, to as many as fifty characters. The new arrivals are often bit players, who stroll on and stroll off, sometimes without uttering a word, often just dropping a tiny clue, or cooking up a red herring.
Then there are the scene stealers, the pot stirrers, the out and out stick in the spokes merchants who were never part of the plan, had no business intervening, and arrived totally without any invitation. Ironically those are the characters I both love the best and loathe the most, because they make me work harder.
These are the characters not invited to my party who twist the plot into a pretzel and cause me endless extra effort to unravel what they have tangled up for me. Some of these are genuine plot goblins, the characters that shove their way in with pointed elbows, and have to be rooted out with extreme prejudice or they ruin the story. Some meander aimlessly hither and yon, purposeless but for making me waste my time chasing them down and getting them into the butterfly net, so I can release them back into the wild, away from my story where they can do no harm.
Eventually, like a grade school teacher on a field trip, there comes a time when I must raise my voice and try and bring order to the chaos, and that is where I shall be next week. Hip deep in rewrites and pruning. Viciously dead heading the wilted characters and pulling out the pernicious weeds that have grown among the flowers in my story beds.
.As I say, it’s the part of my job I dislike the most. Just like weeding the garden and taking out the trash, it must be done. Editing is exactly like winter’s most loathsome job here in Ontario, snow blowing. As fast as you clear one pile of unnecessary stuff away, there is more waiting to be cleared. But eventually spring arrives and you get a glimmer of sunshine to keep you going until summer arrives. Today may be the second day of summer according to the calendar, but it won’t have officially arrived for me until Tontine is clean and scrubbed and ready for you to read. Until then it’s back to digging out the weeds, taking out the trash and snow blowing, lots and lots of snow blowing.