I’d heard that sequels can be hard to write. I didn’t know if mine would or not. I’m still finishing the editing of my first book and am getting ready to publish soon, but the sequel is now almost a third written.
Initially, I plotted and outlined as much as I could. The ending was sort of eluding me. What exactly was the main conflict? What was the nature of the item that complicated her life? Not having the answers, I did what I always do. I write what I can.
As I was writing the first section, my characters started interacting with their world. Things started happening that I didn’t expect, but that I could work with. Challenges appeared, and new villains emerged (though they didn’t know at the time they would be the villains).
I had a few spots in the plot/theme that I wasn’t sure how to fix or fill in properly. I knew as I got writing, it would present the answer for me. I never fully know how things are going to turn out until after the second draft is done, anyways.
Well, today everything fell into place. In many ways it was more like writing the second half of the first book and not a whole separate book, and in other ways everything is new and fresh with familiar characters. While the plot is related, it’s not exactly a continuation. That gives me freedom in the writing.
I was writing some new details into scenes I’d already thought I’d finished, as I was clearing up a plot point, and that got me on a roll. Then I added new scenes, and those new scenes handed me my ending. New characters were added, needed characters, and depth and backstory were added to familiar characters a bit. It’s like watching my characters grow and evolve before my eyes. Why was he so gruff in the first book? Here’s the answer. Will he find healing? At some point, now that I know why he needs it.
What about her, my main character? Well, I remember how hard it was to grow up different. I remember how confusing some things seemed. I know how she’d feel in similar situations, and what kind of support she’ll get. I have some ideas how people around her might react, and who will help and who won’t help. After all, growing up takes a while and is full of challenges. Add magic into the mix and things can get confusing for her really fast.
Well, now that things are worked out, the rest of the writing will go quickly in comparison. I intended to spend a little time on a second story, too, but the sequel grabbed me and hung on. I’ll spend some time with the first story this afternoon and do some more editing and proofreading, too. Almost there!
Well, instead of the up to ten business days, I’ve been assigned my ISBN numbers and have my account. That was fast! A single business day? Really? This is getting more real now...
My first ever reader loved the story. Soon I do my final edits, then prep the book for publication. There’s both the ebook and the paperback to get ready, but that’s okay. I’ve decided what names to publish under, as well, I think.
Best of all, my outline is nearly done for the sequel, and I’ve begun writing, even as I edit and prep other books as well. This series is just flowing out of me in draft form. While I still take care to edit it and make it the best I can, the characters have their own lives already and want to go on more adventures. I can sit down for an hour on the martial arts book and get 1000 words out, but I’ll sit for 1 1/4 hours on the sequel and 2000 words flow in the same time.
I always remind myself - write the book you want to read. It helps me plot and plan. It gives me characters I love. It gives the story meaning to me, and lets me write about themes I love, like friendship and loyalty, struggling against adversity, and personal triumph.
Also, I need to let myself write the way I do it best, which means jumping all over the place and writing out of order. I can fill things in as I go, if the important scenes get written first.
He’s getting me a journal for this series. I need to start recording things about the characters, places, settings, items, and so on. Things need to remain consistent through the books. Being able to open a journal and look at the information quickly will make everything go better and more smoothly. There’s also something about hand writing that really appeals to me. My gratitude journal and my personal journal are hand written for a reason.
They say that unless your goal scares you it’s not big enough. I’m not sure who they are, but this definitely is a little scary. I’ll be putting myself out there, even with a pen name, and opening myself to criticism. I don’t care so much, though there’s still an element to fear about it. There’s so much to learn and so many steps. That’s okay, it’s a journey every bit as much as what my characters go through. A labour of love, if you will.
Alright, I admit it. I really am a writer now. I started another story, mostly outside my official writing time. It’s a story I want to tell, hopefully with some surprises and twists. I love writing about martial arts, so it’s going to be another Young Adult book one day.
I do love writing about friendship and mentors, love in all its forms, including platonic love. Buddy love, as it’s sometimes called. Even when it’s not the main theme, or secondary theme, I do love including that level of connection between characters.
I also miss the process of the writing flowing, making the story complete and letting it come out as it will. Now that I’m editing my two books, I miss the writing. Sure, I’ve been writing some personal stories, but I miss the process of starting a novel already.
Amazing how something so new only a couple of months ago is already a part of me. I can’t not create. Stories are within me and demand that they come out. I’m still spending my mornings focusing on the stories that are almost done, but this next one wants out, too. I’ll play with it in my free time.
I have it outlined already. I do use the Save the Cat method, which I’ve already discussed, and it makes the story take shape. I know what the story should say and how and where things will be revealed. Later, the real fun begins and I add in characters and start writing scenes.
Some days you get up and everything just works well. The writing seems to pour out of you and you have a scene all lined up, as well as getting ideas for other scenes. This is where being able to make notes is invaluable. I tend to do this within Word, as I have my own personal outlining system set up.
I use the Heading 1 settings for Chapters and major breaks in action that I want to go to quickly. Really important scenes may have this heading if I want to jump back at them quickly. By starting with the headings from the Save the Cat method, I ensure I get what I need in each location. Initially this may only be notes or single sentences with thoughts on what may happen. These may change, depending on where the story goes, and sometimes scenes may move headings completely.
Heading 2 is for notes, like scenes within the larger framework I still need to write or want to edit. By keeping the navigation bar open on the left of my screen, I know at a glance how many heading 2 styles are left that I want to work on. I can fill them in and finish my story as I am ready, deleting them as I go. When they are gone after my first draft, I know I’m ready for editing.
On days when the writing flows, I’ll write as much as I can anywhere I want in the story, making notes in other places as I need. I may get a couple thousand words out in just over an hour when I’m in a flow state, then typically I’ll repeat that on my second story as well. By being able to jump around with the headings, I can keep it clear where I am and what I should be writing about.
Sort out what works best for you, and get writing!
Sometimes you just have to map things out to know where you’ve been and where you want to go. I was stuck on a scene Just before the middle of my book. I knew what came before and after, in a broad “I already wrote it” kind of way, but I needed something more.
Out came the white board. In this case I wasn’t mapping a plot, but her progression through the story. I even colour coded it for my own at a glance convenience. It helped me make sure her journey was on track.
After all, in a story about magic, I needed to keep track of what she learned and could do, so I made sure I put in enough information and scenes about her learning, so she doesn’t just “know” something later that she wasn’t able to do earlier in the story. It worked. At a glance I was like “yes, that’s the missing scene.” I also found two more spots where I need to link segments of the ending together.
Now I have a clear path forward for that story. My “editor” is eager to read it, too. The next step is to “rewrite” the book with pretty language and vivid imagery, without being too boring, descriptive, and floral in my writing. A new challenge that I’m looking forward to.
Still, I learned two separate ways to chart my story now. My erotica was mapped with plot activities and whether they were positive or negative for the main character, and the young adult novel was plotted by character abilities. Both work, depending on the nature of the story. More tools for my writing toolkit. Who knows what I’ll be able to do in the future!
As it happens, some stories take on a life of their own. My erotica - turned romance is turning back into an erotica story again. I thought I was done, and that the story was just going to be a very short novel. Then I knew that wasn’t true. The story wasn’t done.
I didn’t expect it to go from his story to her story. I didn’t expect to see the story from her side at all. Still, I knew it would be better finished from her viewpoint. She’s the more sensitive and meditative of the two, so any erotic scenes from her point of view would be richer in imagery and bring a female reader into her world better.
What I thought was the big finale turned out to be the midpoint. It’s the finale of his part, and a good closing point, but definitely not the end of their journey together.
So, here I sit, letting plot ideas for her story run through my head. The good news is her story doesn’t need to be as long, though it will be just as deep. She has her own transformation to go through, as relationships touch both partners, not just one. I’ve already got some of the basic framework down for her, I just need to fill in the details. As I already worked out her past, that can come back and affect her present with him.
It’s amazing how one novel can be going so smoothly and simply and the other can take such a winding path to being written. One was pretty well plotted and set from the start, while the other has been reorganized twice, and now needs more plotting work because it added to itself. Writing is definitely an interesting journey.
I have a couple of other story ideas ready for when I finish these two books. Both are somewhat plotted out already as well, in varying levels of detail. It seems that it’s the erotica and romance books that are more likely to wander from the plan than the adventure books, where the characters wander around the worlds. Maybe that’s the reason? A physical journey is easier to write than an emotional journey, as the surroundings make everything new for an adventurer. In an emotional journey, the journey itself is on the inside, and we’re complicated people. Characters would be, too.
Go have fun, learn about plotting, and write something!
Well, my Young Adult novel is almost fully done the second draft. Almost. I’m still filling in the scenes that were missing from my first draft, but it’s going very well. I’ve been reading through the book as I go to make sure I don’t forget any scenes, and have found a way to leave myself notes that I can easily find again.
During the writing of my first draft I found it very helpful to write the beginning, very middle, and end, then go back and fill in the rest. By knowing the endgame, I knew what to work towards. Even now, as I fill in scenes, I know where I’m going.
Here’s the thing - by going back and now filling in the missing scenes, I know what I need to include, but sometimes it also includes surprises that I end up adding to an already roughed out scene that makes it better. Working back helped me get to where I am, but working forward will be what finishes my book.
I love how the details are really falling into place now that the story framework is shaped. This is when I add the small moments that turn out to be useful or game changing for them in the end. She’s learning this skill or acquiring this item, and...oh look! There it saves her backside.
Sometimes it’s more about what she doesn’t know or do that comes back to bite her in the butt. Nobody is perfect, and a growing girl who’s trying to learn who she is has her share of mistakes in the process. The third draft is where I look at that kind of detail, as well as language usage. Then there’s the rest of the drafts.
Still, I’d rather put out a quality story for people that I loved to write than a rushed manuscript with errors. I have a secret superpower in my pocket - an analytical engineer who will find every inconsistency in the story. He’ll get to see it once the full story is complete, but before the final drafts.
Working out of order works well for me in the early and early-middle stages, but the point comes where you have to actually read the book. That’s where you find the time skips and holes in the narrative. There’s many ways to deal with them, but you won’t know they’re there unless you read from start to finish.
Read, plot, plan, enjoy...just go write!
Yes, just as we think we have a handle on a project, we think we know where its going and what it looks like, the story has other ideas. There we are, sitting and doing something not writing related (or not, most of what I do is writing related somehow), and the idea jumps to the front of our minds, hijacking our thoughts completely. It grabs our brain and shakes it, not letting go until we agree to listen.
Some stories are well behaved, chugging along merrily in the direction we think they should go, and being easy to write (more or less). My Young Adult story is like this. I’m going back and adding scenes, filling out areas that need work or attention, and generally tidying up.
Then there are stories like my erotica. I’ve already reorganized it once, flipping parts around completely. Yesterday I realized that the story was only half done and that the sequel really belonged as the second half of a single book. Fine, I can easily do that. It felt like the right decision.
Well, there I was this morning having a tea break and getting ready to start on the erotica book, as I write my YA book first, when I had that deep knowing that something needed to change. You see, the first half of the story is told from his perspective. It should be, really, so that was fine. I was about to start writing when I just knew I had to tell the second half from her perspective. That gave the story somewhere different to go.
This story is writing itself through me, taking its time to unfold in its own way. Just when I think I’ve got it, the story shows me where it wants to go next. That’s okay, though. The first part of the book was the romance and setting the stage, and the second half will be the most fun to write. I love writing erotica scenes, and a book with lots of them is too tempting to pass up. Part one was the setup, and part two is the fun.
This works because I’m adaptable and listening to the story. If I had a rigid idea where the story was to go, then I’d have given up. I almost did give up on this story once, but then I let it start telling itself, and now I’m happy with how it’s shaping up. I look forward to being able to share the story with everyone at some point, if the story ever thinks it’s done!
Get out there, find a writing prompt, and just see where it goes. Happy writing!
My Young Adult novel has now reached the stage where the framework is established, and I’m pretty well done my first draft, I guess. Now it’s time to go back through it and fill in missing scenes. This is actually a little exciting in some ways, and I’m enjoying it.
Sometimes I realize a scene I meant to happen later wasn’t late enough, so I needed to go back and write a preperatory scene before it. Other times the scene needs more scenes after it to incorporate something important into the story more. Still other times I remember something and go to the big finale to include elements of it. It’s actually a bit of an adventure.
I’m learning how to tie the whole story together. As my character learns to use her skills, she needs to build those skills in a logical order. Did I skip ahead, let her learn too big a skill, then go back? That’s the sort of question I need to answer with this editing round.
Yup, it’s the first revision and addition editing. My focus in on plot and consistency. I have a white board that I can make notes on and keep track of everything. My cork board is for planning plots, and my white board is for revising plots. It works well so far!
Once I’m happy with my plot and story, then I’ll be going back and starting round two of editing, which will be about wording and language usage. Am I being clear? Is there enough description, or worse, too much? Does she share how she feels and do you feel close to her? Who doesn’t love a pony? All these important questions to deal with.
Then will be the grammar and spelling run through of editing. I’ll spend as much time editing my book, or more, as I spent writing it. Now, to be fair, the first two rounds of editing are just another form of writing, so I count those as writing time, personally. Still, it’s exciting to begin the first stage of editing. I’m having fun, and it’s going better than I thought.
Part of it going well is only focusing on one or two things each time I edit. I can look at that one task and it feels more achievable. If I look at everything, I’ll lose some of the details. That won’t let me do nearly as good a job as if I really take my time and focus.
So, get writing, no matter how crappy that first draft is. Then you can make it pretty later. Plot holes? Skip them and finish the story. You may know what happens later, when you see how it all fits together.
I was struggling with my romance/erotica book. I was having difficulty figuring out how to fill in the story with important scenes, as I don’t write a Book in order of events, I write it as I feel enthusiastic about a plot point. Sometimes I need to know how it ends to fill in the events between that and the mid-point, for example.
Well, I pulled out my handy dandy cork bulletin board and made cards out of construction paper. Shopping isn’t always easy, so I sometimes make do with what’s on hand. I used my rotary cutter for sewing and the coloured paper for the cards, and now I had an additional tool.
By assigning each colour to a different type of scene, I was able to better see what kind of scene I was dealing with. By adding an arrow in the corner of each card that pointed up for positive (happy) scenes or down for negative (detrimental to Main character) scenes. Now at a glance I can see the general progression of the story and how often I have love scenes verses activity scenes, verses conflict scenes, and so on.
I can glance at my board and know where to add story elements and what kind of element to add, including whether it’s a positive or negative element. This will enhance my story immensely, as I was beginning to get writer’s doubt, and part of me wanted to chuck it all and begin a different story that I was holding for after this one was done. No, I just needed to take a different approach and visualize the book better.
This is the story that I recently completely re-ordered, so I had lost track of what goes where. By using cards and push pins I can easily move story elements as I copy and paste them in the word processor, so the two match. Now that I’m back on track with it, I’m excited again, and ready to write. Well, maybe it’ll be mostly brainstorming the missing scenes for now, but that’s still writing. I can pick one idea and flesh it out later, maybe using another idea somewhere else as well, and so on.
When I reorganize my writing space, this board is going over my desk. I’ll share more about where I write in another post, as I have some exciting plans for my writing space!
Now, go find an idea you like and get writing, even if it’s just a drabble or a scene. It’s all practice, and makes us better writers.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.