Well I’ve finished my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, or rather the first draft of another outpouring of words – Wyrm Blood. Hopefully it makes more than a bit of sense as I had a detailed outline to work to, although I made a few changes as I got further into the story and discovered extra sub plots. Some of those will require a new draft, which will perhaps be Draft 1.5 rather than Draft 2.
Wyrm Blood is the sequel to Wyrm Bait and as such the central characters are the same, other than the antagonists. However that throws up a question:
How does a writer ensure a new reader learns about the characters from Volume 1?
I realised that I needed to supply some indications and I have attempted to build it into dialogue as much as possible. I have also tried to reference Volume 1 in passing but not as info dump type exposition. At the moment I am reading Darkspell, Volume II of Katherine Kerr’s Deverry epic fantasy series. I read Volume 1 in the summer so I know where she is referring to events in that book but I am grateful for the reminders and realise how well she blends them in.
Obviously this doesn’t just apply to characters but to events, although they should arise from well-crafted characters. However there is a danger in erring on writing less and leaving new readers with unanswered questions – loose strings in a way. That is something that I will have to address in editing Wyrm Blood.
Is it possible to foreshadow the sequel in any way?
Once I started working on the outline for Wyrm Blood there were elements that were ripe for inclusion in the opening novel Wyrm Bait, so these were worked into the draft at that point and I will ensure that both novels are linked in this way. However once the opening novel is committed for publication that will stop. Whenever Volume III becomes a reality the option will not be there, although I will be able to amend Volume II, Wyrm Blood.
As I am playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, an online MMORPG, with my wife at the moment, the Star Wars universe and story development has lessons in terms of sequels, not least that prequels can undermine the freshness and the novelty of the original. In many ways those writers and film-makers that have re-visited the setting of their initial product successfully, have done so be creating a new tale, albeit set against the same background. Terry Pratchett is a prime example in my mind and an inspiration to us all in so many ways.
How should a writer tackle a sequel to a first published novel?
I am in the process of having my first novel Spiral of Hooves published as an e-book and my contract allows for them to publish other books in the Chasseur series. As I was writing Spiral of Hooves there were elements that I felt could be developed and there are places where these were added so future events could occur. I have a rough outline for Tortuous Terrain which shifts the setting from Europe to North America but still involves two of the central characters. How the novel pans out may depend on the success of Spiral of Hooves, which does create a slight deterrent to writing the story. Yet there is a part of me that wants to revisit my created equine world where I started, especially as there has been time to let everything marinade.
Talking of marinading there are other novels either in my bottom drawer – The Last Leaf and Fates Maelstrom – or in some sort of outline – Eighth Passenger, a novel about love across boundaries and war, that began life as the idea for a TV series. Where I go in 2013 will have a bearing on which WIP receives the necessary input of energy required to move it ahead of the queue.
Until next time the Silver Scribbler wishes you all Good Writing.
- When you should write a sequel to your novel – and when you shouldn’t (nailyournovel.wordpress.com)
- The Challenges of Writing A Sequel (crimsonleague.com)
- May the 4th Be With You – Star Wars Day 2012 (epicagames.com)