Series Writing: Recurring Conventions

Even if you don’t recognize the term, recurring conventions, you’ve spotted these elements in your favorite series.  Elizabeth Craig calls them tropes.  Camille LaGuire uses the term rituals.  These are the situations, settings and other elements that recur from book to book.

In Harry Potter, we have Harry’s scar and the fact that the Weasley’s are poorer than a lot of the other big wizarding families.  Miss Marple has her knitting and her ability to compare everything to her village of St. Mary Meade.  In Curious George, we have the fact that George is a curious little monkey and that, in spite of this, the Man in the Yellow Hat will, once again, leave him alone and expect him to behave.

All series have them, or at least they should.  In mysteries, I’ve noticed that a lot have to do with food, hobbies, books, or history.

Then I started thinking about my own mystery.  Yes, I’m only on book 1 but cozies tend to read like series.  Read enough of them and you’ll know what I mean.  All of this means that I should be thinking about these things even in book one.  So far I have several possibilities including:

The church choir in which she is a soprano

My character’s old-time cooking skills – pickling, baking bread, etc.

Her mother’s ability to take her from 50 year-old adult to 10 year-old child with one sideways glance

Her love of coffee

The way that her modern suburb feels like a small town – everyone knows everyone.

Is this going to be enough?  I think so but what is more important is deciding that they are the right recurring elements.  They have to be things that are interesting enough that readers come back to see what is going on in the town, in the choir and in the kitchen.

I suspect that I’ll have to shore up my recurring conventions as I rewrite the book.  Rewrite?  First I need to finish my initial draft.  Back to work!