Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book 2 in a Series

Okay, I promised I would blog regularly about the evolution of a book series. I'm doing my best to keep my word. So, to help me along with this, post questions in the comment section and I'll try my best to answer them.

Book 1, Before the Scarlet Dawn, is now in the capable hands of my new editor Ramona Richards at Abingdon Press. It is ahead of the due date, but that is mainly because I started this novel exactly a year ago. Now I am working on Book 2, Beside Two Rivers. I hope I am not being repetitive, but this book originally began as a stand alone. Barbara Scott, the editor at Abingdon at the time, gave me some plot ideas and I started to rewrite those first chapters I had sent to her. Then it occurred to me this needed to be a series.

Anyway, I am saturating myself into Darcy's story in book 2. It has started off a bit on the humorous side in regards to the family she is living with. A nervous aunt, an understanding uncle, and five female cousins. She is unlike them all, except for having some of the traits of her Uncle Will, who is her father's half-brother.

I had to set this novel aside in order to write book 1. What I am doing now is revisiting the over 200 pages I wrote, and editing them as I go. This gets me back into the story. Then I'll pick up the pace to finish the book.

Here is a tip for writing a series. As you write book 1, keep a log in your other notebooks, of events and scenes that have those characters in it. This way when you are writing books 2 and 3, you will be able to transition to them easily.

For example, Darcy sudden recalls an event from book 1 when she was a child, but only in part. This scene will play a major role in book 2 when Darcy questions what it means, what exactly had occurred that day, and how she deals with what her father told her. It certainly struck fear into this child's heart.

'Darcy shut her eyes and forced back one memory. That of her mother lying still and pale. She could not see Eliza’s face, only a flow of dark hair. She remembered the firm touch of her father’s hands, the sound of his voice, and the words—You’ve heard of Hell, haven’t you? Well, that’s where your Mama will be.'

It is a terrible thing to tell a child, but such were the times she was living in. Since it was a major event in her young life, I have had to reflect on how it effected her, and how this plays out in her life as a young woman.

So keep a good record of events for the subsequent books. It will make writing them much easier. You won't have to jump back and forth between your manuscripts, nor will your readers ask why they were not included. If I fail to include what I shared with you from book 1 in book 2, the story would lapse in authenticity and flow. However, do it with a delft hand. Do not rewrite the scene, only mention it in a way that moves the story forward---briefly in either narrative, which should be very short, in or dialogue. I'm not suggesting flashbacks. They are lengthy and bog down the story. Avoid them, because the reader's interest will be in the unfolding of events in the present.

A brief mention of an event (backstory) that occurred in your character's past that has had an effect on them in the present will add depth to your character's motivation, illuminate their struggle, and explain who and what they are.


Melissa K Norris said...

Great point! I've found even in my current manuscript a need to do this w/ pertinent details such as heriones birthday, etc. Amazing how one can forget after 250 pages. Grin.
Looking forward to reading the Eliza's story.
Do you keep a seperate notebook for each character, or a file on your computer?

Rita Gerlach said...

Actually, I use a different notebook for each book. I buy the ones with separators. In the front I have details about my characters. These only amount to a few pages. The rest I use to write out the scenes by hand first.

You can do this with a three-ring binder and put separators in it with loose-leaf paper.

Whatever works best for you is the way to go.

Jan Cline said...

Ive been using notebooks since I read a post here a while ago. Sure helps. I hadn't planned on my first book being a series, but I couldnt help start another one that takes off where the first left off. I think I like writing series.

Laura Frantz said...

Rita, Another great post! So thrilled that you're progressing so well - absolutely LOVE your novel titles. And I will tuck the series ideas away as I plug along on mine:) Back to work...

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add. Oh, goody on the new book. I loved Surrender the Wind and am waiting for Before the Scarlett Dawn to appear.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Thank you for this post. You pointed out an area where I need to improve book 2 of my series. I need to reference more from book 1.

Susan :)