Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dangerous Task of Writing a Sequel: A Guest Post By Chrystalla Thoma

I am above all and foremost a reader – have been since I learned to read, and even before that, when I blackmailed my parents into reading to me every night before falling asleep. Such a long addiction and deep love of stories can only mean that I’m a demanding reader. I can’t stand clichés. I frown at wooden dialogue and flat characters. I can’t abide plot holes and bad prose.

See how difficult I am? But I think we all are, when it comes to something we truly love.

As luck had it (or fate, or just natural predisposition), I ended up a writer. Since then, I find myself divided between two opposite camps – on the one hand, I am the creator, the founder, the writer, and on the other I am the world’s most demanding critic.

No wonder I feel I’m going crazy some days.

Series are a particularly touchy topic for me. I love them. Since I’m an escapist and want my books to be thick as bricks so that I can lose myself in them forever, series accomplish this to the utmost degree: they allow me to be lost in a greater world.

But series are tricky to write well. Very often, the first book is amazing, but midway through the second book things go awry and by book three you want to strangle the author – not so much for the waste of money, but for the destruction of the magic.

Cue dramatic music: I decided to write a trilogy (Elei’s Chronicles). I wrote the first book, Rex Rising and released it last summer. Meanwhile, I began working on the second book, Rex Cresting.

Cue percussion. Stress. Fear. Insecurity. Will my second book deliver? Will the third?

As a result, I pestered my friends and beta readers (critiquers) for months with questions such as “is this too melodramatic”? “Is this a good sequel?” “Is this crap?”

I swear, I’ve never felt such stress and angst about writing a story. First books are easier: you set up the characters, the premise, the conflict, the world. But the second book has to follow through and develop those characters more, bring the conflict to the next level, give hints as to the resolution that is coming in the final book.

I now sympathize with all writers who write series. A marvelous idea can degenerate in the second book and fall to pieces. Wonderful characters can step over that thin line that turns them from likable to disagreeable. The writer walks a tightrope.

And have I succeeded with my second book?

Too soon to tell. Besides, I’m too close to the book to be able to see it critically right now. I have done my best. Now it’s up to the readers to tell me whether it fulfilled promises made in book 1 or not.

Let’s hope it has.


Thanks, Chrystalla.

Chrystalla lives in Cyprus with her husband and her hoards of wild books. She writes fantasy and science fiction and is now starting a non-fiction book about the dragons of the world. She is interested in parasites, ecology, Indian recipes, love in all forms and medieval music, not necessarily in that order. She is currently writing Book 3 of the dystopian sci-fi YA series, Elei’s Chronicles, and a gay sci-fi novel with androids and lots of mayhem.

Mayhem, in fact, is her middle name. You’ve been warned.

Chrystalla is all over the internet:

Blog: http://chrystallathoma.wordpress.com
Amazon profile: http://www.amazon.com/Chrystalla-Thoma/e/B001JOWZCC
Twitter: http://twitter.com/chrystallathoma
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Chrystalla-Thoma/117863861560579
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4397966.Chrystalla_Thoma
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Chrys

Elei’s Chronicles series (YA dystopian science fiction):
Rex Rising (on sale this week for .99 cents)
Rex Cresting Rex: Equilibrium (coming summer 2012)
Also: Hera (a novelette set in the world of Rex Rising)


Matt Posner said...

Hi Chrys and J.A.,

As for me, I honestly feel it would be hard not to write a series. I fall in love with my characters and want to tell more stories about them. In your case, Chrys, there was clearly a lot more potential in the situation and you have done the right thing. Can't wait to read it.

Chrystalla Thoma said...

Matt, thanks for the comment. Indeed, it's hard to stop writing about characters you love. It's just tough to live up to the expectations you create in the first book, in my opinion.

J.A. Beard said...

When I envision stories, I tend to think in terms of an arc that usually would necessitate a series of some sort, myself.

Dana Michelle Burnett said...

Thank you so much for this post! I am in the final edits of Book #2 in my paranormal romance series and have been making myself crazy. I keep asking myself if it's working or have I just wasted months on a big fat nothing. I've been having panic attacks and everything! It's so nice to read that I am not the only one.

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