I had an epiphany while getting ready for work.
I’ve been trying to plot out book 2 of my series with little luck. It has a plot of its own—Lakeerae is trying to learn more about her Jadeflare, but an assassin amongst the Avar is complicating things and now wants her out of the way.
However, I can’t seem to form that into a coherent outline. In fact, I can’t even get myself to start. I keep distracting myself with other things—like maps, or blog posts. 🙂
Then I realized why.
Book 1 of my series was super easy to outline. It’s basically the Hero’s Journey, which worked great to give it a clear cut beginning-middle-end path. I meander along the way, no doubt, but it’s a nice, organized 3 Act play at the heart. Yay, organized.
Book 2 won’t conform to that. Now Lakeerae is between her initial journey and the overarching goal of the series which is only just becoming clear to her. So now I have to rethink my strategy, and it seems I’m being lazy.
I have to wonder if this is why the second book/movie in a series is usually less spectacular than the first. Often, the second seems to just be a means to an end. It’s not our introduction to the character, and it’s not him/her reaching their ultimate goal. It’s just some of the stuff that happens in between.
I had this epiphany after reading an article from Ink and Quills about book series. It wasn’t directly related to my problem, but it got me thinking enough to get me here.
Her suggestions for making a series that works:
- Make sure you have enough story. I know I have enough story. I’ve actually expanded from 3 books to 4. We’ll see if I can fill all that space, though. But from what I’ve planned currently, I think I can.
- Plan it out. Yes, yes, I need to plan. Apparently I need to plot all three of the remaining books, not just because of this advice, but to make myself feel better too.
- Don’t add filler. I don’t plan to. My goal is about 90k words per book, but if I end up under that with a story that’s satisfying, I’m okay with that.
- Don’t rush the ending. This is what editing is for! Currently, book 1 feels like I rushed to the end and half of the book exists in the last handful of chapters. All will be fixed soon.
- Focus, focus, focus. Yes, this is the goal. Unlike the original incarnation of this novel, which accomplished the goal about halfway through and then wandered through Neverland for the remainder, I have an overarching goal and an individual goal for each book. I just have to outline and plan and stay on target!
This makes me feel a little more confident about getting back to it.
My plan now is to just start outlining book 2. If I hit a snag, I’ll have to figure something else out, but for now, I’m going to plot out the chapters the way I did for book 1. I found this great group of videos from Autumn Writing, and using the Three Act Structure, it’s fairly easy to plot out chapters. It’s what I did for book 1. We’ll see if it works as well for book 2! I’ll let you know!