Beginning work on Book 2 of the Lodge of the Wolf has brought into sharp focus three specific items:
- A “Sophomore Slump”
- The movie sequel problem
- Duplication from Book 1
The first two bullets really boil down the same question: can I write another book at least as good as the first one. Some of my favorite books were the only books the author published under that name (at least as far as I can find). Did the author run out of ideas, out of time, out of money, or something else entirely? Perhaps more than books, movie sequels are notoriously (sometimes hilariously) worse than the original. Part of that is unavoidable since the setting and characters are most likely repeated in the sequel. It’s practically impossible to repeat the freshness (“newness”) while still keeping at least partial continuity within a “living” setting.
Combined Into 1
I want to write several more books. I want to create settings larger than individual stories. The Jagged Earth is the latest story world in the E3ink stable, not the first or even the third. It’s just the first one to see the light of Amazon publishing! So, how do I manage to keep the writing and characters and plots fresh and unique? Ultimately the readers will decide if I manage it, but it’s definitely an issue on the top of my list of problems to catch in editing. I know that the first drafts for Book 2 will contain identical pieces from Book 1. It’s practically unavoidable since many of the characters will reappear (no spoilers here!) and changing costumes and descriptions would confuse, and most likely annoy, any readers of Book 1.
The Real Problem
And thus the real problem is exposed… Creating a Book 2 that’s enjoyable for those who read Book 1 (thank you!), but can stand on its own. Can I write it so readers who begin with Book 2 want to pick up Book 1 and read it as well?
The answer? I wish I knew. Critically reading back through Doc Savage and the Shadow stories, or any series with common characters and/or setting, shows a significant amount of duplication between stories, particular character descriptions. It’s unavoidable for a series with returning characters, but… how much is enough and how much is just annoying? I’m afraid attempting to address it during the first draft would extend the writing time too much. Constantly skipping back and forth to check would make it very hard for me to maintain any kind of flow. So, it’s going to have to be dealt with in editing. At least in editing I’m already going to switch back and forth to check consistency. Ideally that will give me the opportunity to find and get rid of any egregious duplication. Of course, that will extend the editing process.
This is where I starting sighing out loud, by the way. I’ve always thought that a photographic memory and perfect recall actually would be a torment worthy of Dante, but just a little of it could certainly help now!