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  • Writer's pictureDarren Ashworth

Stuck writing your sequel?

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

So you have your first book published, the ideas and plot lines for the sequel burn in your mind, waiting to be released. Yet you just can't seem to get the time to write them down. Or, you start to write and end up losing the plot with your, plot!

After the publication of my first book I struggled, and still do, with these issues.

Here's a handy collection of tips I found to help release the blockage and get those ideas down

Don't sweat it!

This might not seem like good advice at all, but seriously, embrace the flow of the universe.

This doesn't mean you have to become a new-age practitioner or live an alternate lifestyle, it simply means to learn to accept when it's a good time to write and when it's not.

Our minds and bodies' energy levels fluctuate on a daily basis, depending on what's going on outside it and subsequently, what is happening on the inside.

Learning how to objectively understand the state of your mind and how your body is feeling, will help stop the frustration and help you focus your efforts on the times that will be most productive.

For example, you might decide you need to write the next chapter of your sequel by the end of next week, well a rough draft at least. So, with best intentions, you sit in your favourite spot with your lucky writing device and squeeze that chapter from your soul. It might take a few hours, it might take a few days. However what you usually end up with is a piece of work that has a few streaks of brilliance, but is mostly terrible. This is fighting the energies within you and where the universe is trying to guide you to.

Picture a contrary situation, you have a ton of work to do, perhaps you've had a terrible day, maybe your car has broken down or this is the day a relationship failed. At these moments, writing is probably the last thing on your mind. Yet, if you feel it, sit down wherever you are, grab whatever you have available and start writing. Let the energies flow!

More often than not, you will come out the other side of that session in a much better mood. You will likely have exorcised the demons running around your mind and, in the process, created a heartfelt work of art! The emotions that felt so raw will have poured onto the page and hopefully created something beautiful.

A caveat to this approach is you need to be able to write your novel in a non-linear fashion. When you sit down to write, don't try to write that difficult opening passage or the descriptive piece you've changed a million times. Write what you feel. Chances are you will find a situation in your book that will match the emotions you are feeling.

For example, had a bad day? Frustrated at work? That's the time to crack on with any confrontation scenes you have. Work out what you would say to your boss between your characters.

Read your first book again!

This may sound simple, but it works!

You might think you know the characters inside out, the plot-line and character arcs are all seared into your memory. Yet, unless you are an extraordinary author that writes perfectly the first time, chances are you will have gone through edits, cover design, more edits, conversations with your publisher, more edits, etc. etc.

Through all this, the memory fog starts to descend and that book you knew so well, has morphed. Take the time to reread your first book as a reader, not the author. Enjoy the plot twists, wonderful characters, and everything in between. Then you'll be ready to start off from where you left. This is also a wonderful time to go back to your character CV's/profiles and really get to know what you created again.

Pay attention to your readers, but not too closely!

Having loyal and vocal readers is an absolutely wonderful experience and feeling. The feeling you get from them being so involved in the world you have created, or the tale you are telling, is like no other.

The bad, and good, side of this is you will have a plethora of suggestions about what that next book should be. They will have taken your characters to their hearts and moulded them around a character they can relate to and live through.

This can be great, as sometimes their imaginations are a gift, but sometimes it's also a curse. Have you ever had an intriguing situation or cliffhanger and a reader said something along the lines of "What's going on with x? What happens there then? What if they were actually talking potatoes from Mars that is wreaking havoc on Earth?"

So for the next two months, you spend your time trying to work out how you could write in a couple of martian talking potatoes to the middle of a Victorian love story.

However, if you examined that readers' feedback with a more holistic approach, you can see they were intrigued by the characters you created, they wanted to know their story and why they are what they are, even what they are left them wondering. All of those could be used as powerful hooks to keep the reader gripped through that second story, and potentially help you sell it later!

Enjoy It!

Usually, authors write because they like it, or enjoy telling stories. So don't look at the blank page as returning to work on the next instalment of your book. Try to look at that space as an opportunity to get back into that world/story you loved writing, get to know those characters you loved/hated so much. Then use the opportunity to go on another adventure with them, get to know them a little more as they grow and adapt to the hurdles you make them trip over, and duck to avoid the rocks you chuck at them. Most likely they will be some part of your memories. Some snippets of people you once knew or know. Have fun with them and return to their realm for a much-needed adventure.

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