Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing The Next Book

And . . . today is the last day of the Indi E-Con! I've had so much fun with it all, and I can't believe it's almost over!

Okay, today we're talking about the next book in a series. There are many different ways to write a series Sometimes, it's continuing the main character's journey from the first book. At other times, it's only a semi continuation of the story. Meaning you stay within the same family/character group, but use a different POV for each book.
Since I'm using the second method for my Questions of War series, today we'll talk a little bit about that. More specifically, how to keep the characters unique and the plot intriguing with each book.

     1.) Make sure each character is its own, distinct person. 

Now, this may seem obvious, but this goes a bit further than making them look or talk differently. Every character in each book, whether the main character, or minor, has got to have a different drive. A different struggle. A different way of looking at things. 
I don't care if your characters look like mirror images of one another. (Okay, well, maybe I would mind a bit.;)) But they have to have their own distinct personalities. Perhaps they are a lot alike, but there have to be subtle differences.

In my first and second book, I have two very similar characters. Or, at least at first glance they appear similar. But they aren't.
Gil is outgoing, friendly, and he has a teasing streak. He also can be dead serious within the snap of a finger.
Rafe is also outgoing and teasing, yet he doesn't relish attention as Gil did. Also, he will never be quite serious with you unless he fully trusts you.
Gil's drive was fighting for what he believed. His trusting nature was just that---trusting. Yes, he had the good sense not to trust every person who crossed his path, but he looked at people with the "trust them until proven otherwise" motto.
Rafe's drive is fighting for those he loves. He is friendly with everyone, but extremely wary. His motto is "people have to earn trust."
For Gil, his lighthearted look at life is who he is. For Rafe, teasing and making light of things is a guard.

     2.) Make the struggles different. 

In the first book, the struggle for my characters is accepting things that happen in life as a part of God's perfect will, even when we can't see it. 
In my second book, the struggle is taking the next right step, even when the outcome may not be what you want it to be.
The struggle needs to fit the character. What one character struggles with, your other character may not.
Don't try and force your characters to fit into the same struggles, because it's not realistic. Yes, as humans we all have some of the same struggles. But we are all also wide and varied in so many ways. And because of this, we'll all have many struggles that are unique.

     3.) Add  Variety.

 I'm sure y'all are rolling your eyes at me and thinking obviously!  But just hear me out! ;) Everyone is different. Everyone has a different way they view life. Perhaps one character walks around quoting books, much to the annoyance of everyone else. Maybe another loves music. The way they look at life will be different than the way a non-musical person will look at life. (Trust me, as a musical person, I can couch for this. ;))
Also, give different characters different quirks. Don't rely on physical features only to tell them apart. Does one character always whistle? Perhaps another is known by their signature grin, or the way they are always rubbing their chin when deep in thought. Maybe your main character has a habit of twirling her hair around her finger.
At times this takes a bit of extra effort on the part of the author, because these are such common, everyday occurrences that they are often overlooked. But never underestimate just how much they add to your book!

     4.) Adjust your plot according to the characters. 

So far, I've been talking mostly about characters. And I'll admit, I tent to like character driven books much more than plot-driven ones. However, every book needs to have a plot of some sort. But don't try and make the characters in your second book fit into the same plot structure as the ones in your first book.
Did the characters in book one go on some sort of epic quest? Well, what if this adventure-structure story doesn't work with the second book?
Let's day the main character in book one is the kind of person who is bored and restless with life. This literally sets the stage for something big and exciting. Enter the quest. The character's passion and talents are discovered on this journey.
In book two however, the main character is the younger sibling, who has always lived under the spotlight of the older one. Their plot is going to be a bit slower. They're not longing for adventure like character #1. Perhaps their journey is simply finding and discovering their passions, and how they can use their gifting to help in the every day life of the world they live in.

     5.) Realize each book is a different journey for yourself. 

Yes, I know, I've abruptly left plot and characters behind. But I think this is something that is worth pointing out. Wherever you are in life right now, whatever struggles you're having, these are going to be reflected in your writing. And whatever answers God shows you through the course of writing the book, will also work their way into your writing, whether consciously or not. 
Each time you begin a new project, you're at a different stage in this journey we call life. And this is going to be reflected in your writing. So journey with your characters to find the answer. Pray, and ask our Heavenly Father what He would have you learn through the writing of this particular book. I can guarantee you, there will always be a different lesson He's waiting to teach you as you turn the project over to Him.

Well, there you have it. The five ways I use to make sure my first book, second book, and so on are different, and not simply a different way of repeating the same thing we learned in the first book. What guidlines do you use when you start the 2nd book of a series? Any tips you can share with me?


  1. Okay, can I just say how impressed I am with your characters, Gil and Rafe? They sound AMAZINGLY well done! Great job ;). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on characters with us! <3

    ~ Savannah

    1. Thank you!! Hopefully they were done as well as they sound. xD
      Thank you for reading! :)

  2. Great post! Ah, Gil. <3 But Rafe was cool, too ... I'm looking forward to learning more about him someday! :)

    1. Yess, my poor Gil... *hugs him* But yes, Rafe, I think you'll like him. ;)

  3. Thanks for this advice! Since I spend a lot of time writing sequels, I'll definitely have to keep it in mind.
    (Also, Rafe sounds awesome and I want to meet him. What story is he in?)

    1. Ohh, sequels are SO much fun to write!! Rafe is actually from my current WIP, which is the 2nd book in the "Questions of War" series! :)

  4. Thank you for this! It's really applicable no matter which book you write, especially your last point. Thank you!

    Also Gil. </3

    1. Of course! I'm glad it was helpful!

      And yes, Gil . . . *sniffs*

  5. I really like how your characters seem the same on the outside, but are actually very different. That's so cool and realistic! With my WIP, I have it kind of the opposite way. I have two characters that seem like polar opposites from the outside, but they both have the same core struggle/lie. They just handle it in very different ways. It was really fun to work with that, and have them both come to know the truth in the ways that impacted them.

    Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed :D

    1. Thank you, Hannah! I had fun switching them up a bit. ;)
      Oh, that sounds really interesting! I love it when characters are a lot more complex than it appears. I really think it adds a lot more to the story!

      My pleasure! I'm glad you enjoyed it! ;)