Sequels are deliciously difficult to write. I should know. I’ve attempted a handful, ranging from articles to short stories to novels.
The first story, for me, usually forms with a specific beginning and ending in mind and a general plot follows in short order. This leads to a unique character or two fully developed by the time I’ve written the introduction, and I often have the first draft of the climax completed before the main character has embarked on his or her journey. J.K. Rowling did this with her Harry Potter series (i.e., the climax of Book 7 was written long before Book 1 was complete).
The problem I find with writing sequels is not only uncovering the basic plot–which needs to not simply repeat the previous story, yet somehow compliment and continue it–but discovering how the characters can further grow as well as develop a convincing reason to continue the story.
In my current attempt, all I had was a villain from the first story who I didn’t kill off and a title that was a nice variation on the original. I began my research (which has included Irish, Navajo, Chinese, and Central American mythology as well as the history of ancient Ireland and Teotihuacan) and ended up with way too much information, all of which I’ve tried to shove into the story. This has left me with messy lump of unshaped clay.
It’s a wonderful thing to have patient editors who aren’t afraid to tell me something doesn’t make sense, is too much, or simply sucks. Their advice has led me to reorder chapters, take a part of one chapter and move it elsewhere, drop entire sections, or write something new. Inconsistencies develop as old ideas linger, forcing more rewrites. It’s a fun challenge to overcome requiring a steady supply of caffeine.
Slowly, the story reshaped itself into a coherent plot with a definite ending point and, in the past month, I’m hoping this new sequel stands on its own. Of course, this doesn’t mean the problems suddenly end. The plot’s coherence only lasted to the two-thirds point; I know where it needs to end, but no idea of how to get there in a logical manner. Have I boxed myself in by dumping too much research? Should the plot have turned left when I thought right was the correct direction? Somebody get me another cup of coffee!
It’s almost like being back at square one: sorting through my research to glean what I can, re-reading to pick up threads I’ve forgotten that need to be carried through, and making sense of my recent plot twist (which I’m too proud of to want to change! LOL!).
On top of this, I have to make a living. Ugh! Why does something so mundane get in the way of the fun things in life? Maybe I should’ve ordered a venti caramel frappuccino instead of another refill of drip (no room for cream, please!).