Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Terrors of Writing A Sequel

This week, I thought I’d share a little of the twisted world of writing.

I love sequels. When I finish a great book, I hope the author will write something else from that world or take a luscious secondary character and make him the hero of his own story.

As a reader, I love this. As an author, it terrifies me.

A little bit about how I go about putting together a book (it makes more sense later, really).

For me, the creative process begins when I come with a scene, one scene, and from that scene, I create the rest of the book. Basically, I write the book so I can read that defining scene. (I actually wrote an entire book around the sentences, “Most people would have thought it was impossible but she’d done it. She’d pissed off Santa Claus.”)

So, that’s where my creative juices start flowing. I have scene, I create characters, I figure out conflict (if it’s not already apparent), and I come up with “the rest of the story.”

When the book is finished, many times I’ve fallen in love with the world or the characters and I realize…I could write a sequel!

And that’s when I wish I was a better planner. I wish I’d thought of this before I finished writing book one. Now, I have a world and a character, but no scene. I don’t know where to start! It’s rather terrifying, actually.

I love when I see an author that so clearly has her world defined and her characters laid out. The best example I can think of is JR Ward and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. From the first book, she’s got clearly defined secondary characters that make you want more, but never take away from the hero and heroine of the story.

The reason this is on my mind is I have a sequel coming out this week. Summer’s Caress (from Ellora’s Cave) is the sequel to New Year’s Kiss and once again, as I was writing NYK, it never occurred to me that I would write more in the series. But I found myself so captivated with the werewolf world I’d created, that I wanted to spend more time there.

So I began with a character (Rebecca) and had to come up with a scene that defined the book for me. It’s a little backwards from how I normally write but it was a fun challenge. The scene that became the “one scene” for me ended up being between the two heroes (with Rebecca appearing at the end). Very sexy and just makes my heart go pitter-patter thinking of it.

And, I’m learning (yes, she can be taught!). I’m working on two more sequels in the New Year’s Kiss/Summer’s Caress werewolf world, but this time, I realized I wanted to write more while I was in the middle of Summer’s Caress. It gave me the chance to prepare a bit before sitting down to write the next two books.

So, what makes a book “sequel-worthy” to you? What makes you want more (and more!)? Do you fall in love with characters or the world the author’s created? What keeps you coming back?

Have a great week!


Ruby Storm said...

Hi Tielle!

Great subject. I had to chuckle to myself because you write exactly like me. I will build an entire story around one scene (even if it's the end of a book). Once that scene takes root in my 'memory blank', there's no turning back!

I tend to love reading sequels simply because of the characters. I love their world, but it's the hero and heroine and the emotional connections between the two that can bring me to my knees!


Lynn LaFleur said...

The characters do it for me. If I fall in love with them, I want to know more about them. Not just the hero and heroine, but secondary characters too. Sometimes the best friend cries out for his/her own book.

I'd never intended to write a series until my book RENT-A-STUD came out. My hero had a brother and sister who needed their own books. I've written the sister's story so far. The brother's will be harder since he was such a chauvinist and has to be redeemed.

I love your book, Tielle, and am eagerly waiting for your next release!


Titania Ladley said...

Great topic, Tielle! It might sound strange (consider the source), but I've been known to build a story around just a title. And since I often come up with a list of similar titles, I end up with a sequel or series. In fact, I have a whole huge document full of nothing but titles that need stories! LOL

As far as reading other authors' series books, I come back simply because I don't want to leave the awesome setting or the characters I've *met* during the reading.

Hope everyone's having a great Sunday! It's rainy and cool here, but I was able to get my walk done in between downpours. *G*


Shea said...

It's the characters. I fall in love with them and don't want to let them go. The world has something to do with it, but if you have great characters you could set them on the moon and still have a great story.

The problem for me is knowing when to let the story line go. There are some series I've read that lose me by book 5. One I made it to book 9 and then interest petered out.

When I'm writing, I hope a crit partner or editor will help me find the right time to cut a series off.

Great stuff to think about, Tielle!


Titania Ladley said...

Hi, Shea! You make some great points. I too have a breaking point where I'm ready to move on to a whole new place and characters. I'm fickle by nature...but not at first. I always devour a series, but often when things have been wrapped up, or when I feel I can't get to know the characters any more than I already do, I'm eyeing the next fresh new series from that author instead. :)