If it were me, I wouldn't write Book 2 unless I sold Book 1 because:If Book 1 doesn't sell, then it would be hard to sell Book 2.And I think you may learn more by starting a manuscript with different characters, setting, etc.And if Book 1 does sell, it might substantially change once the publisher suggests edits, and then Book 2 would have to substantially change.Just my unsolicited advice.If you still want to write Book 2, start it where you'd start any book: Where something really interesting is happening.
...So if I'd written the sequel before the first book was ready to go to print, I probably would have had to throw it out, and I worry that I might have been more reluctant to really gut things in revision. ...
I have to say that I think Debby's advice is INCREDIBLY solid on this front. Novels change SO much in revision that if you write book two before you sell and revise book one, you stand a good chance of (a) not selling book one and then not being able to do anything with book two anyway, or (b) selling book one, getting editorial input, completely changing some of the characters/plot/ending in key ways, and having to throw out what you'd written for book two and start from scratch. I'm only saying this, because I've been there and done that for both (a) and (b)! Before I sold my first book, I wrote a series of four books that ended up being good practice, but not commercially viable. I don't really mind or regret having written them in any way, but when you write a series, it either sells or doesn't as a whole, and in a business where it can take MANY different projects to break in to the industry, sometimes the difference between moving on to a new project versus working on a sequel can be the difference between writing seven books before you sell one (which is what I did) and writing two. But even if you do sell the first book, it's likely that you'll underestimate the number of things that could change in revision. Of my published books, there are three sets of two (three books and their sequels), and the process between revising book one for my editor and writing book two looked a little something like this:...
I want to keep writing while ideas are fresh and I am excited and not feel stagnant. I don't want to feel like I should NOT write because I have not sold my ms or that I am waiting for the phone to ring. I feel like the longer my work remains unsold (I only started looking for representation in the past 2 weeks) I feel I will be writing from a place of sadness and desperation. At the very least, I need to write for practice. Anything I don't use, I can save for later or personal amusement. Georgia
I usually pick up close to when I left off, but it depends on the book. For my DEAD GIRL trilogy, each book continues immediately. But for the 6th THE SEER that I'm writing now, I needed some time to pass, so it started up 3 weeks later and jumps into a problem right away. I started off with my most popular two characters and as I'm writing the 4th chapter now, there are a lot of characters that haven't been mentioned yet. I bring back only the characters that are important to each story, although I'll purposely weave in some information about past books which return-readers will enjoy. I focus the story on its action and avoid getting bogged down with lots of explaining by imagining that I'm explaining things to a new reader.Jen's quote about each book being it's own learning experience is true, that's what makes things interesting, because every book takes on its own shape and I usually discover some surprises along the way I didn't expect.
Georgia, I was right where you were, a couple of months ago. Last year, I finished a manuscript that is the first in a series. I love the characters, the world, everything about it. But, it's not agented and while I really hope and pray that it will find a home, it's just that--a hope. Right now that manuscript is submitted to the Delacorte contest, so I have about 4 months to work on something else while I wait to see about the contest. I started working on the sequel and then I came across a different thread about sequels, on this message board. And, I changed my mind. I stopped at chapter 1 of the sequel and started a new project. For weeks, I felt guilty and traitorous. Like I'd abandoned my "baby". Even though my crit partners are loving my new manuscript, I just felt so-so about it and I realized it was because I felt like I'd given up on my first story. This week, I've finally let those feelings go and am enamored with my new characters.While I'd still rather have my first manuscript be my debut manuscript, in all reality, since it's harder for a new author to start off with a series, that might not be possible. I had to come to terms with letting my first love, my first characters, sit on the sidelines and wait, at least for awhile. I completely understand not wanting to start something new. When I wrote my manuscript, all three of my boys were under the age of six and I worked night and day on it, finished the first draft in 3 months, and then ... a year later, I still have it--unsold. But, now it's revised and polished and I have that hope it will impress someone at Delacorte (the kind of hope where every time you open the mailbox, you dread seeing your SASE sitting inside, and every day it's not there, the hope burns a little brighter). But, I really think I'm doing the right thing by starting this new project.
I'm glad my we've hopefully helped some people.I also usually fall in love with my manuscripts as I work on them, which is a good thing, I think, because it's a nice reward for all the effort that comes with drafting and revising and the heartbreak of publishing or not publishing. But I think it's like having children: You can't imagine loving anyone as much as you love your first child, and then your second comes along and you realize there is plenty of room in your heart to love another one just as deeply. Okay, maybe I love my children a little more than my manuscripts, but just a little.I have a YA on submission that I love so much because it explores a lot of issues that fascinate me and has a lot of dry, mocking humor that i find a lot of fun. Soon to be subbmitted is a tween story that I love so much because the main character fascinates me and it has a lot of sweet, silly humor that I find a lot of fun. And I've recently started working on a YA that I love so much because its structure fascinates me and it has a lot of dark humor that I find a lot of fun. Three different manuscripts and I love them all.
I'm SO glad I found this thread! Georgia, I know how you're feeling with the want to continue and biting at the bit -- there's been such great discussion and sharing here, it's really a blessing and a big help.My debut novel is going through revision and I had two other books in a series in my mind, but I wouldn't pitch them or even touch the idea until the first goes through its rounds. (I was given the advice early not to continue a series for the imagine-all-that-could-change reason and I thought it was presumptive since I want to honor my editor's opinion and input before I continue the tale!) So I outlined these sequel ideas, made some notes, even a scene or two to keep things fresh, and then threw myself bodily into other project ideas (there's always SOME hanging around)! Once I decided which to pursue, I've been writing that WIP wholeheartedly to keep myself distracted from obsessing over my hoped-for series...And now this new WIP is getting some attention so I think I'll be totally renewed when the conversation can return to novel-under-contract's hoped-for continuation (or maybe start something new again)!Cheers for asking and creating such a fantastic dialogue!
Happy to inspire and thanks for sharing - it was out of desperation... :-) I only wish my next ms would start with the same excitement and enthusiasm as the first did. I suppose there will always be something about the first time huh?
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