Author Topic: Anyone else working on a sequel?  (Read 9943 times)

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Offline Deva

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Anyone else working on a sequel?
« on: June 01, 2010, 10:46 AM »
I've been reading through some of the older threads on the joy and agony of sequel writing, but since they are mostly a couple months or years old, I thought I'd start a new one.

Anyone else out there working on a sequel?

I'm about halfway through drafting a sequel to my forthcoming 2011 scifi book and definitely experiencing some ups and downs.

Most of my difficulties seem to relate to either (A) figuring out the character arcs for this book and making them consistent with book 1 but also new and interesting and (B) battling my own anxieties (Is this too similar to the first one? Is it too different? Are people going to like it as much?)

Mostly I am hoping some other folks out there are either going through something similar and can commiserate, or have already gone through it and can tell me happy stories about how it all worked out!
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Offline Jenn Reese

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2010, 12:35 PM »
I don't have anything to add to this thread yet, but I will in a month or so. Once I've finished revisions for book 1, I'll start on book 2. I have so much to learn and figure out! It feels like a whole new challenge.

I'll be following this thread eagerly!

Jenn
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Offline elissacruz

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 04:31 PM »
Oh, I'm here, Deva.  Have been for far too long, in fact.  I should mention, however, that Book 1 is still out on submission, so I'm currently revising the first draft of Book 2 for my agent and not for an editor.

I've had trouble with A and B above.  I've also been dealing with a terrible case of not-interested-in-writing-this-story-itis.  Sure, it's "easier" since the characters and setting are already there for me, but I'm also getting a little tired of living in their world.  I think I need a vacation from my WIP. 

Maybe I can have a one-night stand with a SNP (Shiny, New Project)?  :shh
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Offline rab

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2010, 04:46 PM »
Deva, I didn't know you were doing that. I'm in the middle of a "companion book," so not a true sequel, but I'm dealing with some of the same things you are, so I'm ready to commiserate. I'm telling things from another character's perspective, and there are characters who show up in the first book (the one due out on Oct 26, not that I'm counting the days!) who get a much larger role in this one. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it's an essential evil for sequels. I say "evil" because every now and then there are places I'd like to go with this book that I can't---because it would create inconsistencies.

Maybe ecb will chime in on this thread because I think she recently turned in a sequel to STARCROSSED to her editor.

I remember reading an interview with Megan Whalen Turner where she said something about how hard it is to write sequels, and it made me feel better to know that even a goddess like MWT finds it difficult!
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Offline Vonna

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 04:51 PM »
Hi Deva, Rab and Elissa, though I am still waiting to hear back from my beta readers, I am working on the outline and first three chapters of a sequel to my WIP, just in case. The problem I am having is keeping my MG mc from becoming too adult-like. Though he's been thrust into an authority-figure role, he is still just a kid. I've got to find the right balance. I still love this story's world and characters, so I'm happy to stay here awhile. I just want to get it right.
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Offline xiaotien

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 05:10 PM »
deva, *raises hand*

i'm looking forward to round three of
revisions on my silver phoenix sequel.

the contracted sequel is a real bloody monster,
that's all i have to say. i don't know how i've made
it so far. throw in deadlines, trying to promote current book,
etc, and it's a virtual circus. (no pun intended. =)

every author i've talked to has bemoaned the sequel.
BUT i do have to say i take heart that no matter how painful
the process, i've read plenty of Awesome Sequels lately including
our own debs work like sarah's demon's covenant and lisa's
perchance to dream. also cashores fire and mwt books.

all fantastic sequels + more.

just have faith and keep going.

 :flowers
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 08:46 AM by xiaotien »
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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2010, 02:45 AM »
Thanks for the companionship and commiseration guys! And for the references to other authors who triumphed over the sequel.

jenn - good luck with your revisions! And hopefully you will come back here and let us know how the sequel goes once you start in on it!

elissa - ooo, good luck. Maybe a vacation would help -- either in a "makes-the-heart-grow-fonder" sense or in giving perspective on why the sequel isn't exciting you. In one of the older threads here on this board, some authors were talking about how they needed to let themselves be more experimental with sequels to find the excitement in them (ie longer gap of time between events, focus on different characters).

rab - Good luck with your companion book! Consistency is definitely a necessary evil :-)  And indeed it makes me feel better too, hearing that MWT said that. Thank you!

Vonna - "I just want to get it right" pretty much sums up my anxieties too. And I like what you say about the character's development - I think that is definitely part of it: showing the characters growing and learning, but in a believable way.

xiaotien - You really have been working so hard on your sequel! But speaking as a reader I know I am excited to see the results! I was just re-reading that interview with Sarah Rees Brennan on second books in trilogies where she describes them as the "make out book" and using that to inspire me (if I get the chance to do the whole series, this will be 2 of 4, but I think the make out book model fits, heh).
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Offline Carrie Harris

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2010, 06:37 AM »
I haven't been around much because I'm stuck in sequel-land too! Glad to hear there are others out there; I think we need a support group and maybe a secret handshake.

Honestly? I just want a secret handshake. ;)

But anyway, the sequel IS a lot harder, isn't it? That first book has a tabula raza--no expectations, no preconceived notions. It can be whatever you want it to be. But the second has to live up to or ideally exceed what you did in the first, and that's scary in a lot of ways. After editorial revisions on the first book, I spent three weeks in paralyzed exhaustion, staring at the screen and line editing the same page over and over again. The good news is that once I got started, I fell in love again and am editing up a storm. No happy ending yet, but it's in sight and I'm determined. After it's done, I've decided to reward myself with writing something fun just for me. If it becomes something publishable, terrific. But there's something about discovering a new world, new characters, and so on, isn't there?

Suffice to say, I know what you're going through! Big time.
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Offline Jaclyn Dolamore

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2010, 07:49 AM »
I'm taking a break from Magic Under Stone, which is a relief because I'd just hit a roadblock. I feel like the scenes I was writing became boring and that led me into the feeling that the entire book is just boring, and I've been freaking out. I'm not sure what I can do, because in an outline it all makes sense and I'm not sure what's wrong. I guess I have to just forge on and hope it works itself out, and if not, hope my editor doesn't hate me when I require more of her brilliance than usual...
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Offline Aimee W.

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2010, 08:44 AM »
Some of the action and reaction can start to feel repetitive when you're working with the same ingredients over and over, so I think it means really digging deeper into those characters/relationships the further along you go, and that's tough stuff! My brain gets tired...lol.

But I'm not published and have no deadlines, so that advice may be as useful as a stuffed hammer.
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Offline xiaotien

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 08:48 AM »
jackie, i so know what you mean.
i cranked out FURY in about three months
and sent in a much much rougher draft than
the debut she bought. it's like romping around in
front of your editor in your knickers. augh.

but thank goodness they are not selfish w their
editorial brilliance. my ms is improving with each pass
and discussion w editor.

i felt the same way w a storyline that bored me.
which i KNEW was an issue but didnt know how to fix
it. time and my editor's insight was what helped.
good luck!

deva, i need to read that post by sarah!
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Offline ecb

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2010, 09:00 AM »
Thanks for the invite to the thread, Rebecca, but I almost don't know what to say... since I *loved* writing the sequel to StarCrossed, and so far I feel a lot better about it than I did/do about Book 1.  I found it tremendously EASIER to work within an established world (even though the setting and most of the characters are different).  I don't know that it was easier than my other books because it was a sequel, or because I'm getting better at my job, or because I sat down and plotted the heck out of the thing before I wrote it, or because it was just an easier book to write (it has a vastly less complicated plot, for one thing), or some combination of all of that.

I will say I was never sure how much/when to refresh the reader's memory about stuff that happened in Book 1, and I definitely found myself thinking, "I've written this scene before" (but I had that sense with StarCrossed, too--every time the MC went searching through documents for buried secrets, I thought, "Didn't I write this exact scene in CURSE?")... and I apparently have a serious obsession with tunnels that needs professional help.

I'm in "pre-revision" prep mode with my editor right now, so it remains to be seen just how difficult this book will get, so I reserve the right to throw temper tantrums in future. :werd
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Offline jackyboy

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2010, 09:04 AM »
Sorry to see others struggling...but then happy to see that I'm not the only one...having a hard time allowing my draft to suck.  I keep reminding myself that the first book didn't just appear wholly formed...that I need to move through this draft and just get to the end...and things are fine for a day or so...but then I freak out again and spend the next three days tweaking two sentences...
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Offline elissacruz

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2010, 10:48 AM »
Oh, jackyboy, I'm having that same problem.  Which is probably why I don't feel like working on this book anymore.  It's not a *pretty* as the first (completed and polished) book.  It's got plot holes the size of Texas.  It has characters who are doing the Jekyll/Hide thing. It's even got a whole lot of "been there, done that" from the first book (at least, it feels that way to me).

But I've taken a mini vacay from it.  I think I needed a writing break, period.  And since I'm not on a deadline for anyone but me, I can afford to take a break.  In a week or two I'll pick it up again and get back to work. 

jackie, i so know what you mean.
i cranked out FURY in about three months
and sent in a much much rougher draft than
the debut she bought. it's like romping around in
front of your editor in your knickers. augh.

but thank goodness they are not selfish w their
editorial brilliance. my ms is improving with each pass
and discussion w editor.

i felt the same way w a storyline that bored me.
which i KNEW was an issue but didnt know how to fix
it. time and my editor's insight was what helped.
good luck!

deva, i need to read that post by sarah!
AMEN, Cindy!  This is exactly what I did with my agent.  That first draft was a doozy, but I figured he might as well see the worst I could do.  Imagine my surprise when he really liked where it was heading.  And I was so grateful for his editorial brilliance on what to work on first. 
I was just re-reading that interview with Sarah Rees Brennan on second books in trilogies where she describes them as the "make out book" and using that to inspire me (if I get the chance to do the whole series, this will be 2 of 4, but I think the make out book model fits, heh).

Okay, where is this interview?  I really really really need to read it, I think!
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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2010, 11:22 AM »
I found the reference to SRB describing Book 2 as the Make Out Book here: http://www.yareads.com/guest-reviewer-sarah-rees-brennan/guest-reviews/1802  (not actually an interview, but a guest review of another series). The relevant bit is:

"However, I have a rule for all good trilogies. Book 1: set up. Book 2: make out. Book 3: defeat evil!

Obviously this is not all that goes on in trilogies, but I really mean it. Book one introduces you to the world, and the characters, to the way the writer’s going to be handling the story and the way s/he runs with and wraps up a book. And then book two takes you further into the world, and since the overarching plot can’t be resolved, it gives you time to show us more of the characters, and how the storyline is developing and affecting them: how the characters change and grow, and how their relationships become more intense and complicated. (Which often leads to making out…)"

Thank you to all who have been responding. It is very interesting to see everyone's differing experiences!

I am hoping I have gotten through my own little crisis of faith, thanks to you guys, and to a friend who read the first chunk of my sequel and allayed my fears, and to some time away. I am missing my characters and their story and eager to get back into it asap!
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Offline elissacruz

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2010, 02:45 PM »
Thanks for the link, Deva.

Though mine is not a trilogy (I'm not sure of the official titles, maybe someone here can explain it to me).  Mine uses the same characters but a different plot each book.  You know, like the Hardy Boys series, which is the best comparison I can think of at the moment.  I'm struggling to develop the characters through each book while coming up with the entirely new plot every time.  Anyone here struggling with the same thing?
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Offline Auntybooks

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2010, 03:29 PM »
Excellent links, Deva!!!

I working on the second book of the Goblin Wars trilogy. The early response to the first book has definitely increased the pressure. :)

 I do like to write series books.- I've done 8 books, 4 books and now 3 books. Some of the things I remind myself of:

Someone very brilliant (I don't remember who) once said, "Nobody reads a book to get to the middle." Bingo. The second book of a trilogy fills that dreaded 'middle' of the story arc. So I must pay special attention to the middle book. I work on making it *bigger.* Touch base with everything people love in the first book, then ramp up the stakes.

For me, the last book is always the easiest to write. I have had the ending of the story in mind forever. All I have to to is describe it.  :yup

eab

Offline Aimee W.

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2010, 04:52 PM »
"Nobody reads a book to get to the middle."

I love it! Thanks for repeating it.
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Offline Kiki Hamilton

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2010, 10:06 PM »
Hi Deva and Everybody else!  Thanks for starting this thread.  I am working on my sequel now too. I actually wrote a first draft before I sold Book One, which was helpful because it really informed what happened in the first book.  This is an intended trilogy so I'm feeling a little bit like I should write book 3 right after book 2 so I can tie events / clues back into the earlier books.  In a perfect world, I would outline but unfortunately, not my way.   (I think it would probably be way too easy that way...right? right?)

Anyway, I'm just wrapping up my final revisions on Book One so I'm starting to look at book two with fresh eyes.  So far all I've done is delete. ergh.  It will be interesting to see how much is left by the time I get done.  But great to know there are so many of us working on our sequels!
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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2010, 05:36 AM »
Someone very brilliant (I don't remember who) once said, "Nobody reads a book to get to the middle." Bingo. The second book of a trilogy fills that dreaded 'middle' of the story arc. So I must pay special attention to the middle book. I work on making it *bigger.* Touch base with everything people love in the first book, then ramp up the stakes.

Thank you eab, this is very helpful! And I think that's part of why I had been struggling, because I knew I needed to pay special attention to this one (also, I have not sold books 3 or 4 yet, and I very much want to write them, so I want book 2 to be as good as it possibly can be to help make that more likely).

And now I think I need to do some more thinking about ramping up the stakes...

Kiki, I will be interested to hear more about your work on your book 2 having drafted it pre-book-1 sale. Good luck!

It's great to see other folks here talking about their sequels/companions books/etc. Thanks everyone!
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Offline ecb

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2010, 12:07 PM »
I've just gone and re-read everyone's posts, and I want to say that despite having an easier time on LIAR'S MOON, I went through EVERYTHING you guys are describing with STARCROSSED, and I'm wondering if a lot of what we're talking about here is issues with *second books in general,* and not specifically Book 2 in a Series.  I know some of us (like Deva and I) wrote standalones as our first books, before diving into Seriesworld, but it sounds like a lot of you are writing sequels to debut novels, and I wonder if it's just that second book that kicks everybody's butt. The first book you sell has to be *so perfect,* but with the second book... there's all this pressure to live up to the first book, and you don't get years to polish the thing to perfection, and it feels like you somehow forgot everything you knew about plot/character/pacing/etc when you wrote the first one... ugh.

There's no wisdom there; it's just an observation!  It comes with cupcakes.  :cupcake

***
The series I'm working on is (probably/hopefully!  :crossedfingers) technically a trilogy, but each individual book has a wholly standalone plot. There really isn't a overriding series plot arc like Brennan described (Set Up/Makeout/Defeat Evil)--there *is* an arc, but it's secondary to the individual plots in each book. I would compare it to the BEKA COOPER books by Tamora Pierce (which are fantastic, btw, and over the second of which Pierce apparently struggled a bit!); same MC, same world, same thematic struggles... totally new adventure each time.

I like Kristen's advice on middle books, and it's something my husband comments on a lot, as well (using "Empire Strikes Back" as his example :dr). The story has to be every bit as compelling as the beginning and end... and who really likes middles, anyway?

Maybe Sequel Strife is simply a related condition to Middle Muddles!

Somebody recently posted a link to Jim Butcher's blog entry on The Great Swampy Middle, which I thought was brilliant, so I'm going to post it again:
http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/1865.html

There might be some wisdom there for sequels, as well.
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Offline elissacruz

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2010, 01:33 PM »
Good point, ecb!  Everyone experiences that Sophomore Slump, whether or not their second book is a sequel.

And I'm glad to hear about your standalone sequels, which is exactly what I'm working on as well.  There is a character arc for the entire series, but it is secondary to the individual plot found in each book.  There is no series plot arc.

In some respects, I'm finding that it is more difficult since I can't really continue the story from a previous book, but I still have to weave parts of the character arc from the first book into a completely new story.  (Did I mention that Agent Man has asked me to start plotting Book 3, and get working on ideas for Books 4 and 5 as well?  And, no, we still haven't sold Book 1.)

Of course, it might not be any more difficult than writing any other type of book.  It might even be easier than writing a trilogy.  I'm just complaining...because I think it's HARD.

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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2010, 01:42 PM »
Interesting hypothesis, ecb! I did struggle with my second book, but in a different way from this (for #2 my problem was finding the characters) and that was another stand-alone. And then my third book was the one that just floooowed out like magic (most of the time-- there were some bumps). What I am working on now (my fourth book)  is actually a sequel to my third book (which is coming out next spring). So maybe it's even-numbered books that get me! Seriously, though, I do think the issues are related in that they involve some level of performance anxiety.

And I loved BEKA COOPER too (Cannot. wait. for book 3. I want more Rosto!)! That's a good example of a series where the second book took things in a new direction (moving to a new setting) to change things up.

I hope you get to make yours a trilogy, ecb! That actually brings up another related source of series-stress: not having sold all the books you hope/plan to write. So not only are you worried about the sequel being good and entertaining, you're also worried about making it satisfying for readers (in case book 3 etc never get published) and at the same time making it so good and compelling that it sells lots and your ed/publisher want to buy the rest. Urg!

The Jim Butcher article is indeed very apropos, thank you! And actually, my problems with my book2 are mostly with the middle, so it's apropos on the macro and the micro level. I know how book2 begins and ends. And I have the BIG MIDDLE EVENT he talks about, so I should probably be focusing on the steps that lead to that.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 01:45 PM by Deva »
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Offline Jen

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2010, 02:27 PM »
I just turned in the first draft of the Raised By Wolves sequel.  It will be my eighth book and my fourth sequel (they all seem to come in pairs), so I knew going in that writing the second book was going to be a different beast than the first.  And STILL, I was on the phone with another writing friend (who was also writing a sequel) pretty much every day, saying what amounts to "Sequels are hard," over and over again.  Part of the difficulty was the actual story- my main character changes a LOT in the first book.  She grows up, and by the end of the book, she's in a much more adult role and a lot of things have come full circle... which was a perfect ending for Book 1, but sure did make Book 2 a challenge.  Book 1 was all about coming of age and falling in love... and so it was a struggle with the sequel to keep up all of that tension and momentum and growth, and then take things FORWARD in the sequel.  Logistically, it was also just a more difficult book to write because (a) it ended up having a much larger cast than book one, and (b) showed a lot more of the broader world than the first book did.  These are good things and things that needed to happen, but juggling a larger cast, more subplots, world-building, etc. with the effort of trying to capture the sparkle and fun of the first book... while all the while wondering if it was too similar/different from the first book and if it had too much/not enough of the elements that people liked/didn't like about the first one...

Sequels are hard.

BUT despite the fact that it was very hard to write, initial reaction from my early readers seems to be very positive. My editor read it pretty much the day I sent it in and loved a bunch of the things I was most nervous about and reactions from my early readers have been really positive, too.  I think, as a writer, it's really easy to convince yourself that if something is HARD to write, it's not any good (or at least, it's not AS good as the books that are easy to write), but one thing I tell myself, over and over again with sequels, is that's not necessarily the case.  Some books are hard to write AND they're really good.  So if you're struggling now, take heart! 

Offline Jaclyn Dolamore

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2010, 10:24 AM »
My sequel is a sequel to my debut, but not my second book, so I'm not dealing with the sophomore slump... I LOVE my second book. Magic Under Stone is a lot harder to write than my book 2. =(

I think the problem I'm having is with introducing some new characters who aren't really cooperating, and the fact that this book is actually a little more quiet and character-driven, at least in the first half, and I'm start to feel like 30k has passed and nothing has happened. It's not really true, but the scenes have been more about emotional growth and the characters dealing with the trauma of the first book, which took place in a speedy, action-packed timeframe, as opposed to this one which takes places over more like half a year. I'm also freaking out that some of the characters in book 1 don't seem to have a place in book 2 and whether fans of those characters will be mad. Ahh, it is a lot of pressure to do a sequel.
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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2010, 12:29 PM »
I think, as a writer, it's really easy to convince yourself that if something is HARD to write, it's not any good (or at least, it's not AS good as the books that are easy to write), but one thing I tell myself, over and over again with sequels, is that's not necessarily the case.  Some books are hard to write AND they're really good.  So if you're struggling now, take heart! 

Thank you Jen, this was exactly the thing I needed to hear right now myself!

And lifeonmars, good luck with your sequel! I am sure fans of the first book will find plenty of new shiny things to love even if their favorites are not as prominent!
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Offline ecb

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2010, 01:27 PM »
Quote
I think, as a writer, it's really easy to convince yourself that if something is HARD to write, it's not any good (or at least, it's not AS good as the books that are easy to write.

Interesting!  Usually I suffer from the opposite neurosis: if it was easy, it must not be any good.

Yup, that's me: Opposite Neurosis Sequel Girl. :werd (we need a "hello, my name is:" smiley!)

Just started the pre-revision homework with my editor, and it looks like I'll get my revision notes next week. We'll see how in love I still am with this sequel in about three weeks. :faint
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Offline Tessa Gratton

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2010, 04:00 PM »
Interesting!  Usually I suffer from the opposite neurosis: if it was easy, it must not be any good.

I totally agree with this. If it's not hard, I MUST be doing something wrong.

That doesn't mean it can't occasionally flow, or that I can't have scenes that I know are going well. Hard doesn't = angst and constant suffering. Just challenge and the need for concentration.
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Offline veschwab

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2010, 07:07 PM »
Just wanted to jump in (or at least toe the waters). I'm working on my sequel, and it's basically eating my soul with a spoon.

I already know what the book AFTER the sequel will be, and tbh I'm kind of paralyzed by a fear that this middle book won't live up :\

So I'll happily jump into the HARD/SUCKY/DRAINING = (hopefully) GOOD camp :p
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Offline Deva

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Re: Anyone else working on a sequel?
« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2010, 02:07 PM »
Just bumping this to see how everyone else working on a sequel is doing!

I seem to have made it through my middle-of-the-book crises (*fingers crossed*) and have been zooming along into the third act. With luck I should finish in the next 2-3 weeks. I'm basically at the stage where I want to spend every moment churning out words, because the end of the story just wants to get told now. Dunno what I will think of it when I go to revise, but right now I'm pretty happy!

It's a relief to feel more certain about my direction finally, after a LOT of uncertainty as I fumbled around for the right motivations and figured out my themes mid-book.

How is everyone else doing?
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