You know what? I’m pretty excited about my next guest. Kimberly Gould is the author of the Cargon series, and she’s here to share some tricks on writing sequels. Thanks, Kimberly!
Writing A Sequel
I had very little difficulty writing Cargon, Honour & Privilege. The page was an open field that I could wander in freely, take my characters where they wished, as they wished. I knew the general direction of the story and just wrote it out. It took me about a month to write the first draft.
Cargon, Duty & Sacrifice wasn’t like that.
I’d been told that writing a sequel could be hard, but I didn’t realize how much trouble I would have. When I finished Honour and Privilege, I kept on writing, filling in most of the first two chapters of Duty & Sacrifice. Then I thought, you know, it probably isn’t worth me continuing this if it isn’t saleable. So I put a stop on writing the sequel and started querying for Honour and Privilege. When I came back after Honour and Privilege was published, I already had the threads to start my story.
I am not an outliner. I’ve never been able to write down all the steps my characters will take to get from A to B. Instead, I put two or three markers on the path and let my characters wander from one to the next. I find it makes the story more interesting for me while writing, and can keep my characters true as they aren’t forced into something they wouldn’t normally do. Duty and Sacrifice was missing B. I had A, A was right there on the page where I’d left it, but I didn’t have a good grasp at all on where it was going.
I did a few brainstorm sessions and had an idea or two, but it wasn’t until I was in Donald Maas‘ master class at SiWC (Surrey international Writers Conference) that I really came back to the story. Using his techniques and prompts on the characters and plot I’d already created, I was able to build 6-7 scenes the fit into the saggy middle of my sequel. It wasn’t sagging at this point, it was dragging on the floor. After that class, I was able to write the middle and still only had a vague idea how it would end. Fortunately, a few villains came on the scene and made the perfect antagonists to bring destruction to my characters and close the sequel.
After plotting and outlining, the hardest part was pretending I didn’t know my own characters. I had spent 60, 000 words with them, it was impossible to treat them as strangers. This is where my new bestest pre-reader comes in. Jay Donovan was a god send. He was able to tell me what he didn’t know (because he hadn’t read H&P) and show me where to insert more description, tiny bits of exposition, mentions that would make the whole fit together for someone new to the scenario. He was also able to show me things about my characters I hadn’t noticed (like Eve’s tendency to try to guess the father of elite). With his help, I stretched my 55K out to 60K, the same as H&P.
Oddly finding an editor and publisher wasn’t difficult. Bahaha! That is the one definitely upside of a sequel. If a publisher or agent was willing to bet on your idea, they’re usually eager to double down in the hopes that everyone who bought the first book will buy the second. In my case, I expect to sell more books once the sequel comes out. I know of at least three friends that didn’t buy H&P because they’d heard the ending lead directly to a sequel. Sadly, they aren’t going to be a lot happier with the ending of D&S.
Continuing the series
Why stop at two? Possibly because you’ve explored the characters as much as you want to. Maybe you want to work on new things. There are a number of reasons for not writing a third and fourth book. I went into Duty & Sacrifice with the expectation that the series would end at two. Darn those antagonists! They went and made a mess that leads to further conflict. I am currently writing a third Cargon book. So, looking back at the problems I had with the sequel, I get the pleasure of tackling each of them again. On the bright side, I finally have a ‘happy’ ending for my characters. All the others have been valid conclusions, but never really happy.
Bio: Kimberly Gould hates being called Kimmy, but her mom called her Kimmydonn and that was okay. She is the author of two books in the Cargon series as well as Thickness of Blood. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and daughter. Her part time job as an environmental consultant leaves some hours for writing and becoming an author. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.