Sequels are hard, yo!



NaNoWriMo. Another November over (by quite a bit, I realize).

This was my hardest NaNo yet. Almost from page one I started having serious doubts about the direction of this particular novel–and the series it was supposed to be attached to–about midway through the month.

This book was slated to be the third in my (tentatively titled) Candy Chronicles series. Book one, Struck by Chocolate, and book two, Burned by Butterscotch, were both fairly light in tone, and pretty straightforward contemporary romance. This one, on the other hand…well, the title kind of gives it away: Dying for Divinity.

There’s a body count, from page one, and that changes everything. Add in some childhood trauma, drug use and a small town which I’d featured in Burned but not Struck, and I had something on my hands that I knew wouldn’t fit with the original trajectory of the series. I’d read, in a bunch of places, how hard writing sequels can be. After Burned, I figured that because I was writing something closer to a related work than a sequel, I was good. When I came up with the idea for Dying for Divinity, though, I knew I had to write it.

Then, a little voice in my head started whispering. This isn’t right. This doesn’t fit. What the hell are you doing? STOP WRITING.

Okay, so it started yelling after a while. Point being, I had this ongoing narrative gumming up the works. On top of the other, constant, low-level fear of being a complete and utter failure. Otherwise known as life as a writer.

I talked about this issue with a couple people, and ended up pushing through, just trying to convince myself everything would work out. It’d be fine. So, this book is darker. And has a new setting orientation. No biggie, right? Oh, and it doesn’t have much about candy in it? Well…we’ll fix it in post. It’ll be fine.

Sometimes–often–that’s exactly what my mantra needs to be. Keep going, everything will be okay. But I couldn’t shake the conviction that this time, those words of comfort were lies. So I kept questioning things, writing slower and slower.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I got a breakthrough. Over coffee at my weekly writing group, I explained my issue to Miriah, and she said, simply, “Make a spinoff series.”

Wait–what? Of course. Of course. I’d been so entangled with this book and the idea of a continuous series that this answer–simple and perfect as it was–never even occurred to me. And while the writing has still been slow (see: gross commute; possum in attic; Christmas and Thanksgiving get togethers; car troubles) at least I feel like this book has potential somewhere. A major shift in perspective.

I think knowing–or at least believing–that you work has somewhere to go is paramount. Spending hours and days and weeks and more on something you know isn’t going to work…well, that sucks. A lot. I do not recommend it. But sometimes it’s just a matter of changing the way you’re looking at the work, and what once seemed like a dead end becomes viable again.

So, three cheers for Miriah! And perspectives! And spinoff series!

In other news, I have no other news. So Merry Christichanukwanzisolstikah! And a happy New Year!

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2 responses »

  1. Thank you for mentioning me! And now, instead of being almost done with the third book of a series, you still have that third candy book to write, plus the second and more books in your new series!

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