06 January 2011

Continuity in my collection

As I've been doing background information for the coffee house book, I've realized that I want something to further unify the collection of books. It's not a series, but I want there to be some thread (aside from the books all being set in the same small town) that connects the books so that readers who read multiple books from the collection will see that they are, in fact, a collection.

My initial idea was to use a character. One character who appears in every book. That wouldn't mean that that character would have his or her own story in every book, but he or she would appear in every book in some capacity. In one book, the character might have a story to tell, while in another, the character might be an observer in someone else's story. Or someone on the street. Or barely noticed at all.

And while I'll still most likely incorporate one character into all the books (somehow), I'm also thinking of adding another dimension to this thread that will run through all the books: an event of some kind.

All the books in the collection take place in the same small town. That's why it makes sense for the characters to overlap. They know each other. Many of them grew up together. They see each other at the post office, on the street, in the coffee house. And, to that same end, they hear about what goes on in the town.

Now, this isn't such a small town that Ginny knows about Harold's late night out with the guys last weekend when his wife made him sleep on the porch. But the significant things that happen in the town are talked about. So, yes, everyone knows about the barn that burned down because those kids were smoking in it. Or whatever. And that's what I'd like to do with the other part of this unifying thread.

I'm going to incorporate some event or something that happened in the town that nearly everyone knows about. Like the unifying character, this event will have different weight depending on who's mentioning it, and what story it's in. In the funeral book, for example, you might only hear it mentioned in passing, or as a time frame reference. While in the coffee house book, someone may explain their reaction to the event, which will reveal more of it for the reader.

I don't want this event to create a story arc through the collection. But I do want it to be present, and to give another depth to what's going on in each of these books, and in each of these characters' lives.

I think, as well as helping show that these stand-alone books do go together, the character and event will be a little "aha" moment for the readers who pick up on them.

What do you think?

Note: Did you notice my delightful label alliteration today? ::grin::

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