Most people that know me would not consider me an optimist. However, I have apparently been guilty of optimism with regard to the next book. As I began work on the interior meat of the new book, I discovered I haven’t accounted for certain design elements. There are several variations to the quote: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” That’s apparently just as true when the campaign is for a series of stories. The next book isn’t the enemy, but all the obstacles to fielding it are doing a dandy stand-in job.
I thought about keeping this one to myself, but these posts chronicle my education/development as a self-published author. Maybe it will save another writer some frustration. I have read several books on publishing, world and character building, and similar topics. Apparently, I have to stub my toe to find the rock. After I had the myth/legend sections completed, I dove into writing Book #2. the Prologue went well and Chapter 1 was brightly shining ahead.
Enter the rock…
I’ve never written a sequel before, even if I have planned this one for some time. I had the setting, characters and plot. Chapter 1 looked bright and shiny in the near distance. I started writing and discovered that I couldn’t remember whether Caitlyn/Fyreplay‘s face was heart-shaped or oval. And that’s when the connectivity between stories tripped me. In the first story, everything was self-contained. I was able to keep up with all the characters. What I didn’t do was build a separate character file with only that character’s descriptive elements. Whoops.
In Orchids Ablaze I tried to avoid describing everything about how a character looked the first time the character showed up. I thought then, and still do, that multiple detailed costume and power descriptions would disrupt the flow of the story. What I should have written, though, was everything about individual characters into an independent file for each character completely outside the story. I have that for their Augmented (super) abilities. I have information on motivation, character development, etc. I don’t have descriptive phrases and a costume sketch. As many times as I proofed and edited Orchids Ablaze, you might expect that I have everything memorized. That would be nice, but it didn’t work out that way. So when I couldn’t remember Caitlyn’s face, I had to skip through every scene in Orchids Ablaze to find that one characteristic. That takes a lot of time.
I’ve decided the actual writing of Book #2 is going to have to wait. I need time to pull out old and new character specifics into some kind of easily referenced construct. I don’t know if that’s a database or a series of formatted files or exactly how it will end up. The good news is that I do have that kind of construct for their Augmented (super) abilities, so I don’t have to build that. I have fairly good records on the characters’ costumes as well. I have to find a way to connect that to all the other descriptions I’m going to need for Book #2.
Lesson learned. Painful in that I missed it the first time. Even more painful in the realization that I’m not ready to start on Book #2 after all. Not the direct writing anyway. It adds time to a process that I knew would be long, but I would dearly love to get the next book out before readers forgot me and Orchids Ablaze. Has to be done though. If you read Orchids Ablaze and are waiting for the sequel, thank you very much and I’ll get it out to you. I have to take a bit of a detour first. I think the next story will be that much the better for it.