While I was writing book two in my Archers of Avalon series (Awry) there were several days that nearly killed me. And I mean this this literally. There were days when I just wouldn’t eat because I was so stressed about the storyline. And nights where I would stare at my ceiling instead of sleep because I was so worried about how book two was going to be received by readers. I was sick to my stomach, peeps.
I call this writing period of mine “The Dark Months”.
During these months of darkness, I wanted to blog about all my hatred of book two and let people know that I was failing miserably as a writer and, therefore, book two was probably going to suck.
But I didn’t.
Mostly because, if I was going to sit down and force myself to write something, I was going to write about Tristan.
But now, two months after the release of Awry, I think I’m ready to share my thoughts on writing book two in a series because I think (and maybe some authors would agree) that book two is a very different monster than book one.
Ready? *dramatic pause*
Book two is hell to write. It is an awful process wracked with insecurity and “oh crap” moments.
With my series, I had all three books outlined before I wrote book one, but I didn’t follow those outlines AT ALL. I started book one and just kinda followed my characters wherever they wanted to go. Which totally worked–for book one.
Book two was a different story, because I had to keep track of all the little things I’d introduced in book one, move the plot forward without giving away all the secrets, and try to keep it interesting. It was hell, people. Hell to manage. Hell to believe in. Hell to write.
Here were my biggest struggles.
1) “I have to keep this story alive!“
Book two in a three-book series is the bridge. You have to link the first and third books, which usually means you have to spit out a bunch of information, and information is BOR-ING. So I was super terrified of the snooze factor.
The last thing I wanted to do was write a book people would fall asleep to and drool all over.
So I tried to make all my information spit interesting.
If I was bored writing a scene, people would probably be bored reading it. So I didn’t let myself write anything that would put me to sleep–regardless of how easy it would have moved the plot.
Did that mean throwing a haunted house full of dead owls into my fountain of youth story? It sure did! And you know what? I don’t regret it. I mean, sure. A creepy house filled with terrifying night predators is a little ridiculous, but hey. Entertainment comes in all forms.
Side Note: Owls horrify me. Seriously. (See my post on my owl encounter HERE.)
2) “But I really, really want to give away the farm!”
All I’ve wanted to do since day one with my series is tell the whole freaking world exactly how it ends because I LOVE the ending!!! In fact, I wrote the ending of my series a year before I started writing book one. That’s how excited I am about it.
So in book two it took every inch of my fiber not to blantantly lay out the entire back plot.
I had to be patient. I couldn’t just be like, “Hi Chapter Two! Here’s the bad guy! Oh, and here’s the reason why everything’s going down the way it is! Oh, and guess who dies at the end?”
Ugh. Delayed gratification is so annoying.
But yeah, dragging out the story and the reveals was incredibly hard. And I’m not a good secret-keeper, so book two was an epic struggle of, “How much can I give away and how soon?”
So what did I do? I wrote all the crap I wanted to give away, and then I cut it all out and saved it in another file called “Crap that belongs in book three.” (That’s seriously the word document title.)
3) “The ending. Oh snap.”
How the eff do you end a second book in a series? I freaked right the hell out over this, folks.
I wanted to end it where the reader would feel safe–but only for the time being. I wanted my readers to finish book two and think something along the lines of:
“Oh, good. The main character didn’t die in that near-death experience she just had. Phew! But the bad guy managed to escape, dang it! Does that mean there’s still evil ahead? I must have the next book!“
And I told myself, “Be nice, Chelsea. Don’t leave your readers hanging this time. Give book two a safe ending. Be gentle.” That was my plan. But what did I do?
My evil fingers typed out a cliffhanger.
*big sigh* I had no control, people. The writer inside of me is a big meanie and can’t help but leave books unresolved. So, I wrote a cliffhanger ending and thought to myself, “Holy crap. People are going to be so mad…”
And then I started laughing in a wicked way. Because, like I said, I’m a big meanie.
So anyways, that’s book two for you. It was hell to write. But I did it. I got it out there and I survived “The Dark Months”. Who knows? Maybe book two will be easier for me in my next series. Or maybe I’ll write another post like this one titled, “Book Two: Still Hell To Write”
Have any of you writers out there struggled with a particular book in a series? Or even a stand-alone that had to be structured carefully? Because I’d love to hear I’m not alone….