Saturday, June 2, 2012

Second Book in a Series

Day Job has been so busy that I've not really been able to keep up with my self-imposed posting schedule. This Friday was especially busy, and I had even planned some fiction out the night before. After work hasn't been a whole lot more calm, but I figured I'd hammer out a quick post on Saturday to keep things rolling.

I'm just about to spend an hour or so doing my writing for the day. I knocked out two pages on Thursday, but took a nap instead of writing on Friday. Thus, today is a make-up day. Also, perhaps a get ahead day.

It's been a bit more difficult than expected to start off the new novel. This is the first time I've attempted to write the second book in a series. I'd heard that it can be difficult, but seeing is believing, as they say. For the Spirit Binder Series, I wanted to keep the books mostly self-contained. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files will know what I mean. He does a wonderful job of keeping a series going, but making the books standalone to some extent. That's what I'm shooting for.

I'm trying to take a page out of his book as far as the beginning goes. Basically, he hits the ground running. He'll remind you of some important details about the characters, reference their past adventures, but doesn't get bogged down in retelling. He gives just enough that, had you picked up the book out of order, you'd be in good shape, but it also brings a knowing smile to those of us that have read the previous novels.

This is surprisingly difficult to do. On one hand, it's necessary. The reminders are as much for myself as for the readers. I need to re-establish characters that I've not written about in a year. Fortunately, I take notes, so I can consult those to make sure I get the details right. The tricky part comes when you want to make the first part move, but have a whole bunch of info to dump.

There are several tools I've picked up over the years that I think can be employed in this situation. The first, and perhaps my favorite, is to have much of the background related through character dialog. The bonus here is that it can make characters seem more real. Of course they'd still be talking about that crazy time last year, when yadda yadda.

I have to get the viewpoint character to a dialog before I can do that. So I've been digging deeper into the toolbox for some of the backups. One is to intersperse musings with travel. This seems natural to me. A lot of times we reflect on things when we're driving, walking, or whatever. Just when you're getting neck deep in reflections... oh, I shoot I missed my turn. Or something.

What I probably should do it simply throw in an explosion. A good gun fight always spices things up, right? I'm not really doing guns, though.

So we'll see how this goes. Beginnings are always challenging, and the second in a series seems to add a bit extra. This is only a first draft, so if I don't the nail on the head, I have plenty of time to fiddle with it.


Deniz Bevan said...

I'd say dive right in with a scene you can see/hear, even if it's not the beginning of the story.
Or an explosion, that's good too :-)

Matt said...

That's another great tool. I suppose I sort of did that, though I'm usually a write-in-order kind of guy. Still, I heard the villain's cliched monologue at the end, so I wrote all that out (probably have to edit it a lot to make it less cliched).

Nadja Notariani said...

Beginnings. I've had them roll out like a red carpet before my pencil...and shrivel away, eluding me for weeks. Every story has a beginning, finding it is a trek through the mountain of possibilities. :}

Matt said...

Jagged, windy mountains.

Wait, is that windy (like something a road might do) or windy (like blowing through the pass)? Gah, English.

But oh, when you see the valley...

Post a Comment