Essays

Two Things I Learned About Writing a Sequel

When it came to writing Wolf’s Bane, the sequel to The Purple Morrow, I was at a loss. Thrilled with the accomplishment of completing one book, I was eager to get cracking on the sequel. My enthusiasm dwindled, however, when I faced reality.

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords (1)

Just how do you go about writing a sequel?

It’s possible that nowadays there is a lot of information on the subject, but at the time, about 2 years ago, my searches came up nil. I asked around some of the writing groups I was a part of and scanned the internet, but ultimately I decided to do what I usually do, which is make it up as I went along. This post is for those of you who, like me at the time, are looking for somewhere to begin.

So, a billion rewrites later Wolf’s Bane is finished. It was a long and tough road to get it done. Here are some of the things I learned along the way:

    • Just because you wrote one book doesn’t mean the second will be a breeze. Writing is fun but it is hard. We do it because it’s something we enjoy and we look forward to the finished project. However, each book is its own entity, and just because you figured out how to wrangle that first beast to the ground doesn’t mean the next one will lie down and roll over for you.

steer

My challenges were many, but the one that stands out right now is trying to figure out how to write a ‘bridge’ book, basically a story that connects the events of the first to the eventual third book. The dilemma was balance. The bridge book has the job of continuing the story readers fell in love with in book 1 yet it couldn’t give away too much information or wrap up too much plot or my final book wouldn’t have punch. That, or by telling too much story, I’d end up with two-books instead of three.

scales

Also, it had to be satisfying. It’s one thing to ask people to read a book, it’s another to ask people to read an ‘in-between’ book. Really, by the end of book 1, readers are salivating for more but we’ve left them with what is essentially an unfinished story. Knowing that book 2 will be another unfinished story, I thought it was important to make sure that it was worth their time. I felt the story had to feel familiar yet present fresh ideas and twists, rewarding readers with a fulfilling experience, which would hopefully entice them to pick up the third installment when it comes out. That’s a tall order.

happy-face

In the end, I delved into world building, developing new and familiar people groups, their cultures and histories in order to emphasize how the past and the present affect the characters and their choices, which influences the overall stakes. I also worked on deeper character development and the addition of plot twists and big revelations to keep it interesting. Bane is a book that solidifies the story begun in book one, reveals more of what is really going on and sets up the events leading up to the final conflict and resolution in book three. Sounds easier than it is, which is why it took about 2 years to get it done.

    • It’s not so easy to know how much of the other book(s) to include. I wasn’t able to get a clear answer on this point either. People I spoke to had different answers. Some write sequels without any summaries of the past book at all and others devote sections of to resume what went on before. I tried both tactics on different occasions to expected results. In the summary-less version, readers claimed they could not understand what was going on, in the summary-rife version readers complained about info dumping bogging down the story. So I compromised. Whenever I came to a place I thought explanation was needed, I wrote a line or two referencing an event in book 1 and then moved on. My hope is that for those who had read book 1 but forgot a detail, it would refresh their memory, and for new readers that they might be curious enough about book 1 to pick up a copy of Morrow to read. For the enjoyment of having a ‘full story’ experience, of course. 🙂

So, I’m curious to know how you have handled writing a sequel. How did you go about it? What tips and suggestions do you have to share?

Essays, Misc, Stories

‘The Task’: Flash Fiction Story

I’ll be writing more about setting writing goals later, but I took matters into my own hands today and did that and wrote my first flash fiction story in a while. I’ve been focusing on short stories, finishing my novel, and blogging so it’s been a while since I went back to this fun yet challenging activity.

I wrote ‘The Task’ out of desperation. The story that follows is a fictionalized representation of a real situation. 2015 started off rough: my brain was stuffed with disorganized plans and ideas, leftover goals from 2014, and a lot of anxiety about what to do next. Also, coincidentally (?) I ran into a lot of posts about setting writing goals and knowing what it is you want from your writing experience. Even the site I got the prompt from, StoryADay.org, had some info about that on their home page. Anyhoo, here’s the story. Enjoy! And drop me a line about how your 2015 writing year began and what your goals are. I’d love to hear them!

From www.blogging4jobs.com
From http://www.blogging4jobs.com

The Prompt: feeling overwhelmed

The Task (381 words)

The pencil tips snaps, leaving an ugly gap in the line. What the heck was I writing again? I scan the nearly blank page, and vague memories, like blind men in fog, come stumbling back to me. Oh right. That.

I change pencils and hit the page again. The words come, haltingly, but at least they come. Grey lines begin to fill the page, and slowly there is more grey than white. My anxiety decreases, excitement and confidence rises. For the first time in weeks, I’m in control. The mess of nagging thoughts, doubts, insecurities—the chaos–finally tamed.

You’ll never amount to anything. All your work is in vain. Who reads your stuff anyway? 

I flip the pencil around, jamming the eraser across the page. Shut up!

Why are you pushing yourself so hard? You really think anyone cares about your work? 

Pink bits of eraser collect in piles on the page. The white of the page begins to dominate the grey. Soon, I’ll tear through the sheet. My daughter did that last night when she struggled with math. She’d had to tape the hole closed and then write on wrinkly paper. I’d been mad at her for being careless. And now, look at me.

The evil voice laughed in my ear. It didn’t have to speak—it’s message was loud and clear.

Shut up! I’ll finish this!

 No you won’t. You’ll give up. You’ll fail. All your scribblings won’t matter in the end.

Damn you, I won’t!

You will.

Shut up!

The paper rips. I stare at the pile of pencils scattered around my desk. Jagged wood pokes into the air where the tips have all broken off. There is paper spilling out of the garbage bin, enough to be a fire hazard under the right conditions. But I am finished.

Writing Goals leaps up in grey letters from the page, followed by a clear, detailed plan of my writing intentions for the next two months. I sweep a hand over the page, grandiose. Victorious. Eat that! I throw down my pencil, push away from the page and hit the computer.

The evil voice is silent.

I smile. And get to work.

‘Goal number 1,’ I mutter under my breath, as my fingers fly over the keys, ‘start writing again…’

Copyright@ 2015 by Dyane Forde

Essays

Slow Writing by Chris Galvin

Some great thoughts here about taking time to get your writing project just right.

QWF Writes

Chris bakes muffins too

Like bread dough, my writing seems to require time to rise in a warm, draft-free place. The long proofing period is necessary; turn up the heat to hurry the rising, or don’t leave it long enough, and I get a stodgy, dense loaf.

Under ideal conditions—solitude, free time and excitement about what I’m writing—the words pour forth quickly. It’s exhilarating. But normally, I write when I can. I like to have control over an essay or story as it forms, and I edit as I write, considering each sentence as I put it to paper—does it say what I want it to say, or does it imply something else? I read what I’ve written aloud—does it have the right rhythm? Is my translation of Vietnamese dialogue as true to the original as possible? Does it sound natural?

The second proofing of the dough is as important as the first. Even…

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Essays, Misc

Guest Post: Adventures in Indie Publishing (Dyane Ford)

Belinda Hughes hosts me on her writing blog, BELINDA Y. HUGHES: WRITING, EDITING & SOCIAL MEDIA, where I share about my indie publishing experiences with online distributors, share tips, and talk about ups and downs of the over all experience.

The Purple Morrow is available on Smashwords and Kindle, soon to be available on paperback. Look for the sequel, Wolf’s Bane, in January 2015!

 

Belinda Y. Hughes Books

DYANE FORD cover art

It’s been three years since I completed my book, The Purple Morrow, followed by a year spent looking for ways to get it published and distributed, followed by another seeing how things went from there. With how simple self-publishing has become over the last few years, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just skip all that and jump instead onto Create Space or Kindle and do it myself.

The truth is I did try. But years ago, when I was ready to get my book into the hands of readers, the self-publishing companies weren’t as user-friendly as they are now. I tinkered with various platforms: Blurb, Create Space, and Kindle and got the same problem every time: a major case of frustration. I had NO idea how to format. It became so irritating that I abandoned the whole thing and ran without passing go to a company who could…

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