Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Writing the Second Book in a Series

Writing Your Second Book Can Be Scary

Often, debut authors work for years on their first books, only to fall flat with their second novel. I completely rewrote ALL THINGS NOW LIVING five times over six years before I came up with the version that will be published later this year. Granted, most of the rewriting was me learning how to write, but the story did evolve and, I think, is better for it. Now my challenge is to write a compelling second book in a fraction of the time I took to write my first. I've spent quite a bit of time researching, and came up with these points:

 1. Don't think of your second book as part of a series, even if it is, but as a novel that has to stand on it's own. This is a challenge when the entire first book is back story, but use the same world and character building techniques used in the first book instead of assuming the reader knows what you're talking about, or excusing information dumps.

 2. Don't repeat the challenges of the first book. This doesn't mean the plot can't be similar, but there has to be a plot (something has to happen) and the character has to be reaching for new goals.

3. Don't let your characters lose the growth they gained in the first book. The main character, especially, has to continue to grow. Taking a giant step back, only to retrace the steps they took in the first book, feels redundant and often leaves readers feeling cheated.

4. Don't put off getting the first draft finished. I once heard a writer talk about how she was so busy with travel and promotion after her first book was released she didn't get around to writing the sequel until two weeks before it was due to her editor. At first I was impressed. She wrote an entire book in two weeks, and her editor was okay with it! Then I read the book, and honestly, it felt like it had been written in two weeks. Do you have three months to finish your sequel? Six months? A year? Take the entire time you have to write and revise.Your readers will thank you.

Do you have any tips for writing a fantastic second novel?

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