Writing Mysteries 2

Weaving in the Backstory
By Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson

Oh, the web we weave in writing! Crafting the second book in the Fairday Morrow series was much like putting together the Harry Potter puzzle with the lake. You know the one, where the whole center of picture is the same color blue— every piece. And when it’s finished you feel like something should happen, like balloons will rain down from the ceiling or someone’s going to hand you an award. And then you remember you’re in your house, and silently celebrate that satisfying feeling of fitting the last piece of the puzzle into place.

Back before we were co-authors, we lived as roommates. We did not collaborate on books at that time, but we did put together Harry Potter puzzles (we are big fans). This may sound a bit strange for two friends in their 20’s, living on their own. Not exactly a wild time, though we had our fair share of those. BUT, working on Harry Potter puzzles was fun, and it was an activity that gave us skills to collaborate on the Fairday Morrow series.

The room was quiet when we worked on puzzles together, with the exception of a few mumbles and groans. This is similar to how it is when we edit. Today, when we’re involved in a project, the conversations are held on speaker phone, and there’s still pretty much no talking.

So how do we communicate? Are we telepathic? Lol— no. We collaborate using Google Docs. That is the space where we fit the pieces of our puzzle into place— the Fairday Morrow series. When we’re in the editing stages, we work on the documents via phone and computer. The manuscript is on the cloud, so we can see the other person’s edits. This significantly speeds up the process of writing the book and makes for a much cleaner manuscript, especially when working with editors. The resolve button is a delight beyond measure!

Google Docs is a fantastic tool for weaving in backstory. It allows us to break the ms into individual chapters, so they’re easy to manipulate. With a basic layout and timeline set in place, it’s easy to find the parts of the story where you want to insert or omit content. Using Google Docs has helped us maintain continuity with our writing and a keep good flow with the pacing of the story.

When pieces of a puzzle are laid out on a table, you can see where they need to be based on their shape, even if they’re the same color. It might seem hard, but if all the pieces are there, you’ll sort it out. Working with an ms in Google Docs is a similar experience.

Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library is a stand-alone book, however the first mystery is tied into the second. Readers can follow along with the DMS to try to solve the case of the Talking Library without having read The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow (book 1), but if they want to delve deeper into the case file, they can familiarize themselves with the clues in book 1.

This was tricky business, as the backstory is quite involved, so having a tool that allows us to weave in scenes and explanations easily is priceless. Using Google Docs with our amazing editors, Betsy Thorpe and Nicole Ayers, was awesome, and seeing the final, clean manuscript in all its shining brilliant glory is definitely something to celebrate— silent, golden satisfaction. 😎

Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson, co-authors of the Fairday Morrow Series
Visit us on the web at: fairdaysfiles.com

Stephanie and Jess met freshman year of high school. It was in English class where they first discovered they liked the same books. Their friendship grew, and over the years they went on to work as servers together, go to the same college for a short time, and they even became roommates for a while. Many books were discussed, but none were ever written. Now, after the release of their first middle grade novel, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, Stephanie and Jess are excited to keep building the mystery in Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library.

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