The most successful books -- and movies -- are part of a larger whole. A series.
I'm writing one myself, twelve volumes long. (Secretly, I'm hoping you knew that.) I happen to be right in the middle of the series, which is a tough place to be.
For one thing, it means I'm working on more than one book at a time. Book 5 is in revisions, being "polished"; I've completed the rich outline for Book 6; and I'm blocking out the outline for books further out... all at the same time. My heart is with the book I'm writing, and it's hard to make myself return to the previous work for editing. When I do get into it, there's a danger I'll re-write too much. The purpose of polish is just to polish the gemstone, not change from a square cut to an oval. The lure of outlining future books is dangerous too; there's a temptation to jump ahead and start writing those scenes instead of keeping my focus on the book in front of me.
Then there are the plotting problems inherent in writing a series. You have to juggle an outsized cast of characters, story lines and backstory, and you have to have your eye on a horizon that ends past the book you're working on.
I'm a reader, so whenever I scratch my head over something, I look for ...a book about it. I love How To Write books -- even after turning professional with my writing, I buy and read nonfiction books and blog posts about writing to improve my skills. I find it rather inspiring too, as it new ideas or ways of looking at things gets me excited about trying them out, excited about writing again.
What I've found is that there aren't many books or writing tips dedicated to sequels and series.
I'm a writer, so whenever I find a lacuna in a bookshelf -- a book I'd like to read that no one's written yet -- my reaction is, "Fine, I guess, I'll write it."
So I've decided to start a series of posts about the particular joys and challenges and tricks of writing a series. I'm going to scour the web for other writers' best practices and secret techniques, and discuss them. I'm going to be re-reading some of my favorite series (and maybe start some new ones) to see what works.
As NaNoWriMo season comes upon us, I'm also determined to do something I've never been able to pull off before -- enter NaNo AND work on what I NEED to work on, which is the next sequel in my Unfinished Song series. So it finally occurred to me, why not just set up a group dedicated to just that? If you're a writer working on a sequel or a later book in a series and you want to be writing buddies, let me know.
Invitation to other writers...
I should warn you, I plan to cheat.
But more about that later....