Hello! That was fun! Here are some of my thoughts about this latest A to Z:
I wrote just under 40,000 words for this A to Z. Actually, I wrote many more words than that—my guess would be around 50,000—but my goal was to keep my posts to a reasonable length, so they all got trimmed, some of them pretty drastically. For most posts (I made exceptions for the very information-dense posts), I thought of 2,000 words as my still-too-long-but-okay upper limit, but tried to keep them at more like 1,200 words. Some of them were under 1,000 words, and that was always great, too. I figured it would be nice to give my readers shorter posts, every now and then. Especially for anyone playing catch-up.
Having A Plan
This year (unlike most years), I planned ahead. That was nice. It was comforting, to go to sleep at night knowing that, whatever challenges would crop up the next day while I was writing my post, I at least had notes to fall back on. For most of my posts this year, I had snippets of dialogue in my notes, and a list of information that should be established.
But mark that word “most.” My plan had some giant holes in it, especially near the end. I had nothing planned for V, W, X, or Y, for example, and all I had down for P was “Crowner and Mug explain what they found out at Miss Polly’s cottage. Documents. Anonymous letter, maybe a diary entry. No names.”
Of course, I also had last year’s A to Z to guide me. That was great—every character had a story, and I knew that the telling of that story was going to form a part of each character’s post. Sometimes, when I didn’t know how else to start, I’d just begin by letting the character talk about his or her situation, and go from there.
Too Many Characters!!!!!
I loved this A to Z, and the crazy, complicated story that came out of it. But, if I were writing this as a novel, I would eliminate at least half of the characters and make some of those that remained way less prominent. And I certainly wouldn’t try to focus suspicion on 26ish (or more like 25? “N” wasn’t a suspect in either A to Z, after all!) characters in turn. That is too many suspects!!!! And, of course, Sir Adam ended up being almost goofily evil, which was the only way I could think of to give him the required number of enemies.
So, this was a fun experiment, but structurally less successful than, say, my 2015 A to Z, which was also a mystery, and which also passed the narrative off to a different character every day—but sometimes that character was just witnessing a part of the mystery, and the story did stay more focused on a handful of main characters. I also did costumes! And, by the way, my 2015 A to Z was my first Inspector Crowner story.
That Empty Feeling
I always enjoy doing the A to Z, and this year was no exception. Of course, now I’m left with that dead feeling, which I find sets in whenever I finish a writing project. I’ve just spent a month with these characters, and now I have to leave them and move on to something else. To be honest, I miss them.
Will I Disappear Again?
My habit, which is lamentable but also just a fact, is to blog every day during the month of April, and not at all for the other 11 months of the year. And every year, I think that this time it will be different. But here’s the thing: it never is. And that is partly because I don’t really think of this as a blog. I think of it as a repository for crazy writing projects. And by “crazy,” I generally mean “writing projects with a large visual component.” So, when I do post in not-April, it is usually something big and elaborate that I have been working on in secret for months or years. Like The Perils of Sir Reginald, a Twine game with, I think, very beautiful visual elements that I painstakingly constructed out of Clip Art (for anyone who wants to play the game, I will just mention one helpful thing: Google Translate will do Latin). Or The Objulak, which is a horror story told in the form of a series of elaborately-constructed diary entries.
I did do a more standard blog-like thing in 2020, because the lockdown made me feel chatty. And that was a lot of fun, and I don’t regret it, even if it did show more of me than I’m usually comfortable with. But it also isn’t something I see myself doing regularly.
What is a good number of suspects to have in a mystery story? Is 3 too few? Is 8 too many?
Which characters in this A to Z would you eliminate? Which characters could be folded into other characters?
Do you have any suggestions for crazy writing projects you’d like to see me tackle? If I were to write more regularly, what would you be most interested in reading?
If you are an A to Zer, do you prepare your A to Zs ahead of time? How far ahead of time? How extensive are your plans?
And that’s it! Thanks again to everyone who followed along this year! See you next year, if not before!!!!