Sequels

Oct. 1st, 2014 03:36 pm
[identity profile] lstout.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] writers_loft
Hi everyone,

I have just published my first ebook on Amazon. It was always intended to be the first in a trilogy although it works as a stand alone. Unfortunately although I know some of the basic points for the second book I am having considerable trouble actually writing it. I have read so many second books that seem flat compared to the first one and I am beginning to understand why this is. I wondered if anyone had any advice on the mechanics of writing a book that is the second in a series or trilogy?

Date: 2014-10-09 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rubel.livejournal.com
I am working on my second book right now, and I had to do a lot of outlining and thinking to get this thing moving in a direction I like. I find it works better if I know the direction before I start, or I build too much structure that just goes the wrong way.

My own problem stemmed from a few facts:
1. My story is based on an RPG I ran years ago. Those have a quality where "the group needs to keep doing stuff," and it doesn't all center around a common plot or theme (and you NEED books to do just that).
2. The first book is what originally struck me as sort of pre-packaged as good fodder for a novel, but there are some things in the subsequent story that involved a couple of main plotlines (and characters) diverging from each other. I needed to find a way to have them be related in important ways rather than divergent.

In addition, I can say that while each book needs to have a plot arc, each book needs to be like an arch of a bridge, supporting the series plot arc. Each climax needs to feel important (even in cases where it is a bit cliffhanger-y), relevant, preferably uncontrived, and you have to keep the main plot building rather than having everything after the first book seem kind of anticlimactic.

Also, what you put into the first book for setting-building and character introduction isn't not all necessary anymore, so you have to be comfortable with filling this space with dialogue and character development.

That is all I can say without hearing more detail about what problems you are running into. I think one problem you may be running into is that, as the author, you feel a sense of exploration and discovery when you write that first book, but that energy isn't there as much when you are continuing that same setting and the same characters. That energy fuels a lot of your writing. Try to identify what makes you feel excited (in terms of exploring and discovery) to write the second book. Also, there is a feeling when you complete something of "this is done, and I feel a sense of accomplishment." The sequel makes you feel like you are re-opening the whole thing and you feel like you have to start much of that energy build-up from scratch. The best way to start tackling this problem is to identify the feelings and sensations in yourself upon writing it and see how they are different from how you felt with the last book. Put words to those sensations and differences, and you will be on your way to resolution.

Date: 2014-10-21 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rubel.livejournal.com
Well, it's too early to tell really. It felt easier to write the first one, but I'm just hitting my rhythm with the second one, I think. I feel like I may end up making more changes (mostly adding character work) to this one than I did on the last one. I do tend to favor plot a little bit over characters, and I need to make sure my characters feel satisfying.

So what are you writing now? I have another unrelated book I want to write after this one too. I feel like I may get that one traditionally published. My current one is an eBook.

Date: 2014-10-21 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] captlychee.livejournal.com
One of the best sequels ever done, IMHO, is Larry Niven's Ringworld Engineers, the sequel to Ringworld and, as I say, IMHO a much better book.

He waited until he had enough feedback on the first book to write a good sequel to it. Now, he didn't intend to write a sequel, so it took ten years of feedback to et him started, but since you intend to write one, and are doing it, you will have to wait less time for feedback about the first book.

Which thus entails we feedbacking 'loftites' finding out what it is :)

Date: 2014-10-21 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] captlychee.livejournal.com
It's hard SF, so not really your cup of tea judging by your LJ profile. The whole series is four books now, too, written over 33 years or so.

Larry Niven did do a lot of other books in between, and it wasn't that he was gestating away the sequel and doing nothing else. the main point is that he waited for geedback on the first book to see what needed to be done in the sequel (which hehad not planned to write). the third and fourth books were inspired by discussions about the statements made in the first two.

Feedback isn't vital or necessary but it is handy. Accordingly I just bought Shadowbound for the Kindle and, if you're amenable, I'll get back to you with some feedback.

Oh, and I noticed you've only joined LJ recently, so welcome! There are some good people here. I may be one of them :)

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