There are ups and downs to the writing process. Sometimes the words flow and other times they don't. Sometimes a brilliant ideas remains brilliant and other times, well, the brilliance fades and the idea gets placed in a folder to collect dust. Yes, it happens.
There are perils to writing as well. The peril I'm going to discuss today is the peril of familiarity.
What is this dreaded peril? Well, in simple terms, it happens when a writer becomes so familiar with their characters that, well, every character they create is pretty much the same.
There's one series of books, well, two series, same characters, very well written. I've read the series many, many, many times. The author had great success with this particular series, so-so success with another series, and then, many years later wrote a stand-alone, single volume book.
Well, enter the perils of familiarity. The characters in this book - perhaps intentional, perhaps not - were carbon copies of the characters, down to personality traits, of the oh-so familiar characters I knew and loved from the author's previous works. In fact, the only difference was the names. Yes, the characters were that familiar.
Now, on to a different author that I love. She makes me laugh out loud every time I read one of her books. Heck, one time, I had to quit reading because I was laughing so hard. I walked the dogs, still laughing btw, and couldn't pick up the book for almost twenty minutes because the one scene was so ingrained in my mind. Great writing.
So, anyhow, new book by this author, good concept and characters, loving the book, even though there is a sense of familiarity about one of the characters. There's enough difference, however, to make the sense vague . . . unlike my previous example. Then, wham, bam, this vaguely familiar character happens to drive the exact same vehicle as a character in another series by this same author. Screeeeeeeeeecccchhh! Apply the brakes. WTH??? Yes, pulled right out of this great story by the perils of familiarity.
I mean, couldn't this similar to another character have driven a different type of vehicle? Couldn't the explanation for where the vehicles came from have been a bit different than used in the other books by this author? Couldn't . . .
Yes, more than one similarity (i.e., familiarity).
So, all of this got me to thinking about my own writing and whether I too might suffer from the perils of familiarity.
Why, after careful inspection, yes I do . . . to a certain, but hopefully not jarring, extent. At some point, in most projects, the characters end up drinking margaritas. At some point, the individual characters might drink Jack Daniels and Coke, or Crown and Coke, or Scotch and Water, or . . . some other type drink that my real, not fictional (ha), friends drink.
This is okay.
The fact that all the characters in each different project drive the same vehicle, at least in my opinion, isn't okay.
The fact that every character I write is exactly the same except for a change in name, at least in my opinion, isn't okay.
Now, back to the book I just finished reading. Here's my hope: the author, in book II or III or whatever, will link the vehicles to the character in her other series. Yes, wham, bam, right out there for every one to see the author will insert a sentence that says "Yeah, we get the vehicles from this dude in Chicago who runs a . . . " This, dear readers, would be neat, and a great tie in to the other series, and make the perils of familiarity not so jarring.
How about you, do you suffer from the perils of familiarity? Is there a way for this not to happen? Is it okay that this happens? Thoughts, comments???