Writer's Notes

When Characters Jack Your Story

By Thonie Hevron

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an outliner. I need a roadmap showing where my story is going. A lifetime of structure will do that to you. Life as an Army brat then a career in law enforcement will do that to you. When authors talk about being “pantsers” (writing by the seat of their pants), I know that I would flounder if I started a story that way. I need an outline.

Nick and Meredity MysteriesImagine my surprise recently when a secondary character hijacked my scene. I’m working on my third book in the “Nick and Meredith Mystery” series. My main characters are, of course, Nick and Meredith, a pair of Sonoma County Sheriff’s Detectives assigned to the Violent Crimes Investigation unit. At this writing, they are traveling to the scene of a homicide set in the remote Sonoma County hills. Nick is the sergeant in charge; Meredith is paired with another detective, Joey Webb. Joey is a sharp, attractive, young man whose partner is tied up in court. He seems attracted to Meredith and it surprised me when the first glimmer of interest appeared. Hey, this wasn’t in the outline! Where is this going?

I’m fortunate to have an excellent consultant in my story construction. I’ll call him “Mack.” Mack is helping to keep my story accurate. In this direction, I’m re-writing an existing scene. In the middle these words, Joey Webb slides his sunglasses off and studies Meredith. Where did this come from?? Hmmm.

I wish my outlines were so tidyBy the end of the day, I’ll know where this is going, or maybe by tomorrow. No matter the timeline, Joey and Meredith will show me the way. I’d been toying with dropping the whole secondary plot line involving Meredith and her father repairing their relationship. It’s a good idea and I hope it will happen but it may not fit in this story. Maybe next book.

My resource well keeps overflowing with great books, websites, people to interview so Meredith will—at this writing, anyway—spend more time wrestling with her PTSD than arguing with her father.

So, I will just re-work my outline after my characters decide where they are going. I’ll make sure it fits into the story arc and is believable.

But for now, I’m liking the journey that Joey and Meredith have launched.

We’ll see where it leads.

Writer's Notes

Still waiting…

While has published BY FORCE OR FEAR, the conversion to Kindle, Amazon, B & N, Kobo, Sony and Diesel haven’t yet passed the manual vetting process. On June 11, my book was submitted to what the publishers call “Premium Catalog” which means it will be available to all the above once it is accepted. Hoops to jump through, to be sure, but necessary if I want to do this right.  I’ll put the word out loud and clear when it comes out. As it is now, thanks to the readers who bought my book through
More about the story:
I set it in Sonoma County for obvious reasons–I live here and know it well. I have worked for several law enforcement agencies including Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. It should be obvious how much I respect it.

But a few more notes about setting: When I first wrote this book in the late 90’s, the County Courthouse was situated around a quad found in the scene where Meredith shoots the old man with a knife. The SCSD was on the east side of the building with the front door off the Quad. The department has since moved into it’s own new building on Ventura Dr. I chose to stay with the scene as I orignally wrote it for expediency. I needed Judge Stephen Giroud to witness Meredith’s officer involved shooting, and the courtrooms are on the second floor with huge plate glass windows overlooking the Quad. Perfect.  I also kept Community Hospital (now Sutter Health) and the field adjacent to Norton-then Oakcrest Mental Health facility. As for the chases, foot and car, these were fictional spin-offs of every back road I’ve ever been on between Santa Rosa and the coast.

I hope I’ve done justice to the portrayal of Sonoma County’s beauty-even in the soggy winter.

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