I’ve got myself into a literary pickle of sorts.
It sounded so straightforward when I first thought of it: a loose series of 5 (or 6) books that with stand-alone stories mostly set in Melbourne that have cross-overs with minor characters. Like if Love Actually was a series of 5 (or 6) love stories mostly set in Melbourne where everything and everyone comes together at the end.
How hard could it be?
It started so easily.
I had my characters and I had their protagonists. I even had their suburbs:
- Emily (Em) – Richmond – Baby, It’s You
- Abigail (Abby) – CBD – Big Girls Don’t Cry
- Maxine (Max) – Cotswolds and NZ – Wish You Were Here
- Calliope (Callie) – Fitzroy – I Want You Back
- Tiffany (Tiff) – South Yarra – (working title) I’m Not in Love
- Alice – Prahran – (working title) When Stars Align
I’d even worked out which characters appear in which novels. What could possibly go wrong?
The timeline. That’s what could go wrong.
The hole that I’d dug myself was one where four novels all take place within the same time-frame. Wish You Were Here is the exception – the characters cross over, but the events do not. Alice’s story will take place after Tiff’s has finished, so I’m not too concerned with that one either.
I first came across the problem when I was at copy edit stage of I Want You Back. I’d gone back to check on when a certain two events occurred in Baby, It’s You and discovered that I needed to write another week in. That was a lucky pick-up.
I’m having the same problem with I’m Not In Love, but it’s worse because the action (if action is the right word) happens at exactly the same time as I Want You Back. This means that the three scenes crossover over must have exactly the same dialogue but from a different point of view. Plus there’s a character that also appears in Big Girls Don’t Cry who turns up so I have to get her timing right too.
With all this talking about crossing over, anyone I would think I was that TV medium – is it John Edward? If you’re confused, spare a thought for me. Anyways, I’ve come up with a rough timeline that identifies where the touch points are.
Then I have to write it all without giving away what’s occurred in any of the other stories – the whole idea being that each can be read as a stand-alone novel.
If I was JK Rowling I would have had it all planned out before I even wrote the first one, but, of course, I’m not JK Rowling and I’m not into plotting in advance.
I possibly could have even had an easier time of it if I hadn’t decided so early on that the final three books in the series would be a mini-series of their own. Callie, Tiff and Alice are best friends – of course their stories were going to merge and, dare I say it, cross over.
So yes, I’ve dug myself a hole, now I have to find a way to write myself out of it – by the end of July. How hard can it be?