There’s are best practices for writing a series and then there are… what I did with this series.
It has been an education on what not to do. My wife once jokingly called this story (in a different form with a different name) my “white whale.” She cast me as Captain Ahab on a quest to exact my revenge on Moby Dick.
It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was a struggle. An unusually difficult one.
Here’s the best practice that I knew about and ignored on these Walter Anchor books: have a series “bible” so you can keep everything straight as you are writing stories in a series.
I didn’t do that. I got a fun idea in my head and went off writing. And the way I write, that’s not really an impulse I want to suppress (at least not much). It’s the fun of writing, especially when it comes to mystery, that keeps me at the keyboard. Start with the mystery, see where it leads, and hopefully be surprised just like the reader will be.
I ended up doing the first four of these (there are going to be six shortly) without a proper bible and ended up with a lot of continuity issues and had to spend a lot of extra time editing.
This has been a very good lesson to learn. I am currently working on another series, on the second story in it, and believe me I have a good bible setup and it’s helping so much.
The lesson here is be spontaneous after you have prepared.
In any case, Death of a Dentist dives deeply into my ghost detective’s backstory and heads him towards the coming conclusion of this round of stories. Walter’s afterlife has been consumed with solving his own murder and he’s about to confront the reality of his death. This is the story that points him in that direction.
Getting here feels pretty good. Sure I made mistakes, but I overcame them, learned along the way and have six very different mysteries (he’s a ghost detective after all!).
Death of a Dentist is on sale for $0.99 (in the US) for the next few weeks. These can be read out of order, but if your are curious about the series, the first episode, Detecting Haley, is free to my newsletter subscribers.
Here’s the blurb:
Walter Anchor spends his afterlife solving murders in the hope of one day getting good enough to solve the toughest murder of all. His own.
But when his partner and best ghost-friend Emily convinces him to relive his last few days to find a lead in his very cold case, everything changes. He finds his past and his relationships much more complicated than he remembered and uncovers an unthinkable clue. A clue, that if followed, will force him to reevaluate his life and his afterlife
From the author of Shuffled Off: A Ghost’s Memoir comes a murder mystery unlike anything seen before.