The Sequel Jitters: Writing the Second Book In a Series

My break from writing begins today, apart from the edits of my first manuscript that will continue. What? You don’t think I could ever completely give up writing for a full month, do you? While I certainly am looking forward to this period of rest, an obstacle awaits that fills me both with eagerness and dread. At the end of this vacation, I’ll write the second book in my four part Never Heroes fantasy/adventure series.

To write the first book was a massive effort. I finished the first draft of it just under a year ago. Over 130,000 words and one draft later, the first book in the series still remains my most cherished work, but it is only the first part of a saga that has yet to be finished. I can’t help but be a little nervous about measuring up. The story of Zhyx the dragon and his companions going on their adventures in the mythical country of Haiden has become more than a hobby, a passion or even a career prospect. It has become a part of my immortal soul.

There certainly is no shortage of ideas. The earliest draft of the book was so full of information, characters and set pieces, I made the decision to divide the story up into a series rather than try to cram it all into one giant volume. Those characters and set pieces still wait patiently to be reborn by a keyboard’s strokes.

Much will happen, and these future books will expand on and elaborate these characters and their universe, delving deeper into their relationships and their abilities as they continue their adventure. The later books will take place over a much longer period of time. Whereas the first book takes place inside of a week, the final book will span twenty years of their tribulations and triumphs alike. There will be joy and sadness, old characters will be lost for new characters to take their place, relationships will crumble while others flourish, all as these characters continue on an adventure filled with hope and fear.

I certainly won’t be going in completely blind. A decent roadmap has already been prepared. Even while writing my setups, the payoffs were already neatly catalogued in my many pages of notes and ideas. I know how each of the next three books begins, and how each of the next three books ends. Shortage of ideas is not the problem. The problem is organizing it all into a coherent story.

With so much for me to juggle around, I’m not going to fool myself into thinking there isn’t a lot that could go wrong. There’s also the worry that my pre-mapped story may not be the best idea. If I’m dead set on a path, a potentially great alternative may pass me by.

Yes, writing a story is always difficult. To craft a sturdy cohesive narrative can often seem like building a tower of cards. If one little piece of character development doesn’t work, or if one piece of world building is inconsistent with the rest of the story, it could all come tumbling down in a sad heap.

Writing the first book was an exhausting effort. All the days of going to the store hours early just to have the privacy to work, all the times going over the manuscript and correcting each mistake, all the nights staring open eyed at the ceiling trying to figure out how to get my characters out of a bind without copping out. By the time that first manuscript was done, I was about ready to keel over. Now I have no choice but to do it again, three more times.

Three more times, each time being much longer and elaborate than the last.

As the journey for my characters will be far longer and far tougher, I expect it to be the same for me. Yes, Never Heroes is certainly going to be a tough nut to crack.

Still, these characters and their world are closest to my heart out of anything I have ever done. To go on another adventure with them will be a treat. Ultimately, they will not rest until their story is done. Neither will I.

There is the comfort of knowing I’ll be in good company.

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