Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing a Sequel: Labor of Love or a Really Good Way to Pull Your Hair Out?

I always thought writing a follow up book to a novel would be easy. Perhaps it is for some writers. However, for me it's a challenging process that makes me understand why some authors just don't do it.

I mean, is there really anything more to tell about these characters anyway?

Of course there is! There's always another path that could be explored in a character's history or world, but I guess the big question is should it be explored? And if the answer is yes, how do you go about doing it?

This past year as a ghostwriter I wrote a trilogy for a client. It was definitely one of the more challenging things I've done. Writing sequels takes time and thought, and you have to be willing to look at the overall story arc for three books rather than just focusing on the one. This means doing  a lot of pre-planning. Keep in mind that your pre-planning may go out the window if a character decides to get uppity and take on a mind of its own.

The best tools I came up with to help keep the story arc focused and coherent were to write outlines for each of the sequels to the original. I hate creating a synopsis for something I haven't written yet. It always makes me feel that my creativity is being told what to do instead of just flowing free. In this case, writing out the synopsis proved to be invaluable. Having the outline allowed me to keep sight of where I was going with each book and make little changes as needed.

This is something that I've already implemented in to my Bayou trilogy and with the follow up for Nephilim---something that is long over due!

However, I'm always curious about other writers and their processes. How do you handle writing sequels? What follow up tools do you use?

1 comment:

  1. Careful notes from the first book are essential for me. I need to keep track of what color hair each person has, if it's been mentioned, and the personal mannerisms I've given them. Also details about the settings if I'm reusing any of them. I keep a spreadsheet on my characters and some of the places I use. I refer to it often!