Writing a Series: Keeping “Dialed In” to a Character

I’m finding two distinct challenges as I write the third book in a series. The first challenge is that I’ve lost a bit of the ability to go anywhere my mind takes me since some parameters are already set up in the first two books. For example, in the first book in my Cates Brothers Series, Bringing Delaney Home, the reader meets Quinn and most of his brothers. So, his brothers’ personalities and careers are detailed in book one. They get even more cemented in book two. It’s not a huge deal, just something different from writing the first book in a series or a single title. The positive side of this is the town and many of the secondary characters are already established as I moved on to book two and now book three. It’s like working with old, familiar friends. That part is fun.

The second challenge, and the one that’s making me itchy, is making sure I deliver the goods. By that I mean, this third book belongs to the oldest brother, Tynan. Ty has appeared in both of the first two books and Beta readers and CPs have fallen in love with the guy. I actually had to cut some of his scenes from each of the first two books because, as both my CPs and Beta readers pointed out, he was stealing the scene. I got more than a few “Whose book is this?” comments. Contest judges have fallen in love with Tynan! So, I’m feeling a little pressure to make sure I’m still dialed in to the man. Tynan is the oldest of the five brothers and has always been the wild one of the bunch.

Here’s an exchange with Tynan I cut from a scene in Bringing Delaney Home, Quinn’s story:

      “Delaney Lyons, you are looking damn fine.” A man, looking a lot like Quinn except his eyes were two different colors, got up off the couch and gave her a tight hug.

     It didn’t last long, since Quinn bodily separated them saying, “Tynan, you big oaf, get off her. Delaney, you know Ty, right?”

     “Yes. We were in the same class in high school.”

     “Why is it we didn’t date?” Tynan asked.

     Delaney looked around to see that Mama Cates was on the far side of the kitchen out of hearing range. “Well, you were always in trouble and I already had plenty of that in my life. Besides, we were chemistry lab partners, and I let you copy off my tests. I don’t think you wanted to mess that up.”

     Tynan grinned. “I have a confession. I wasn’t copying off your tests. I was looking down your shirt.”

     “Tynan Cates!” Mama Cates rushed over from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron as she went.

     “So busted. Mom-radar never fails.” Quinn pulled Delaney away from Ty only to have her commandeered by his mom.

     “Delaney, we’ll just ignore Ty for now.”  

Next is a deleted conversation from Could This Be Love?, book #2 in the Cates Brothers Series. This is the story of the second oldest brother, movie star Sijan Cates and Avery Danford. Granted Avery’s best friend, Pia, aided and abetted Tynan in this scene, so I can’t put all the blame on him…Especially because many things in this scene changed: the point of view character, who initiated the kiss and the motive for the kiss. So all those changes made it easier to delete.

      Pia figured Avery would be disappointed when they stepped outside and there was still no paparazzi in sight. She figured wrong.

     “I think I have to kiss you,” Sijan said, gazing down at Avery.

     Avery blinked up into his face. “Well, if you have to, you have to.”

     “I think I have to throw up,” Tynan said.

     Pia elbowed him in the ribs. “Oh, stop. This is adorable.” She lifted her phone and snapped a picture of the slowest, sexiest kiss she’d ever seen. “Oh, holy cow. I think I ended up with the wrong brother.”

     “Hey, now. I can do that and more, but you’ll have to wait. We’ve got to get them out of here before the paparazzi or our mom shows up.”

     Pia couldn’t stop watching. Not that she was timing or anything, but a five-minute kiss and still going? Holy mother of— “Wait. Your mother or the paparazzi?”

     “Too late. Here come the paparazzi,” Tynan said. “On the other hand, they haven’t come up for air in a while—”

     “Five minutes.” Pia tried to keep the envy out of her voice. “They might pass out soon, and we can say he was performing CPR.”

     “I don’t know. Your friend looks like she has a healthy set of lungs.” Tynan crossed his arms across his chest, casually watching the kiss.

     “Breast size does not correlate with lung size, genius,” Pia said. She darted her gaze toward the descending paparazzi, then quickly back to the kiss. “Six minutes. Wow.”

     “Are you breathing faster, you bent, kinky thing you?” Tynan turned toward Pia, his odd colored eyes catching the setting sun. “I find that very hot. If I promise to give you a ten minute kiss, will you help me get them out of here? No way your friend wants her face splashed on the cover of every tabloid in the super market.”

     It wouldn’t go over well if she said that was exactly what her friend wanted, but this kiss wouldn’t accomplish that. You couldn’t see either of their faces even if you could see the passion. “Ten minutes and thirty seconds and you’ve got a deal.”

     Pia was breathing faster and her hormones jumped up volunteering to get spanked, but she had to ignore them while she searched for one or two unaffected brain cells.

     What was best for Avery here? On one hand the paparazzi was about to descend and Avery’s goal to help Tansy would be accomplished. On the other hand she was making out with last year’s World’s Sexiest Man. Hmmm, what to do?

     Tynan leaned over and nibbled the spot on her neck just below her ear that practically made her vibrate her foot like a dog’s. There went the last two unaffected brain cells.

     “Room key?” Tynan whispered, holding out his hand. Pia mindlessly transferred it from her purse to his hand, moving her head to give him a better angle. He lightly scraped his teeth on her neck. “That’s to mark my place so I remember where I was.”

     He put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Sijan, let’s go. Come up for air, damn it. No PDA exchanging DNA within fifty yards of the VFW.”

     Sijan and Avery broke apart only to stand staring at each other. Sijan shook his head. It appeared he was trying to focus, but Pia wouldn’t bet on him knowing his own name right now.

     “Dr. Tynan and Nurse Pia have diagnosed you and prescribed a night of whatever you want— only behind closed doors.” Tynan attempted to pull Sijan away, but he didn’t budge. That kiss was so long they’d had time to grow together.

    Pia nudged him. “Hey, why isn’t it Dr. Pia and Nurse Tynan? Did you sleep through the feminist movement?”

     “If I’d been old enough, you can be sure I would have donated my body to the cause. I have nothing against female doctors. It’s just I’m having trouble turning Nurse Tynan into anything resembling straight porn in my mind.”

     “Good point. I’ll be the naughty nurse. Can’t you separate those two any faster?” Pia could only watch as the paparazzi descended. A few molecules of air finally separated them, but Sijan had his fingers sunk into Avery’s pale hair and he was whispering something to her that was apparently melting her all over him—like a second skin.

     “No. They keep stopping to stare at each other just like—” Tynan got a funny look on his face, and started to shake his head. “Oh, holy cow, my brothers are not going to believe this.”

     Pia glanced sharply at Tynan and figured he just saw what she already had. The look she’d seen on Sijan’s face yesterday and again tonight. The one she’d captured on her phone…that wasn’t just lust. That was his future, his 2.5 children, his riding off happily ever after into the sunset look flashing across his ruggedly handsome face. Only, the man didn’t have a clue.

     Cameras flashed as the paparazzi called Sijan’s name trying to get “the” front page photo. In their dazed state they both looked into the cameras. At least Avery could stop worrying for a few hours, since if her crazy plan worked she was now just a day away from helping Tansy.

     “They’re both adults,” Tynan said. “Even if this is out of the norm for both of them. This is different for Avery too, right? I mean, she’s not some weird chick trying to hook up with as many stars as possible, or something, is she?”

     Pia had to squelch the almost hysterical laugh. “Not even close. This is different for her. Like invasion of the body snatchers different.”

So, I’m getting familiar with Tynan again. Remembering who he is and what he was like in books one and two. There was a hint in book one about something he was dealing with. He was in the Army and did a few tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he came home relatively unscathed. No injuries. No PTSD. He’s a civilian now, and doing okay, except for the growing weight of survivor’s guilt. And this one other problem that he recently revealed to me, which I have tried to talk him out of, but haven’t yet. Tynan always was a trouble maker.


For writers: Here are some links about writing a series.