Sequel Complications

I completed a basic revision on Chapter 1:

  • Staging/Diagramming review (narrative combat and exploration matches set construction drawings)
  • Basic dialog check (character dialog matches their specific form)
  • Costuming & powers (match costume details and power descriptions to character definitions cross-checked against Orchids Ablaze).

I already had an outline for Chapter 2, so I started into the actual writing. That’s when Mr. Murphy put the smackdown on Plan A.

I knew the sequel required careful attention to detail to match up character and setting details. I knew I had to account for changes that occurred during the “off camera” time between the books. The plots were sequenced, new characters chosen and written up, and I created character images to help with consistency. Everything appeared ready to move forward. Turns out I didn’t appreciate how difficult it would be to present the same characters and tie in plot details. Oh, I’d considered it, thought I had ways to account for it, but actually writing it down opened up plot holes.

And I hate plot holes.

In my viewpoint, comic books don’t worry too much about plot holes. When you’re working with impossible situations to begin with, explaining them is more about imagination than consistency. Readers tend to be more forgiving as well, I think. In general, comic books are driven by the art. There are always exceptions, but the art is, obviously, the most visual element and what is most easily remembered. Writers seem to take positive glee in finding ways to fix and, better still, exploit gaps in logic.

Novels don’t have that luxury.

I laid out the plot for book 2 (I have to get a working title!) in a straightforward, linear sequence of events. Now that I’m actually writing, that sequence just isn’t going to work. Character motivations aren’t going to make sense early in the story if the reader hasn’t already met the characters in the first book. It made sense to me because I know what happens in the underlying meta-plot(s) and stories!


I have some possibilities, but I don’t really like any of them at the moment. In order of difficulty, I could:

  1. repeat a cut-down version of the conclusion of Orchids Ablaze as a prologue
  2. intersperse Orchids Ablaze flashbacks specific to the character and their viewpoint of the action
  3. Time-hop between chapters rather than a linear sequence

I’m not especially fond of any of those options. I’m leaning toward option #2 because switching viewpoints allows me to give readers of Orchids Ablaze a different perspective rather than a simple repeat. That opens up possibilities for inconsistencies, however, and I hate those as much as plot holes.

Time to pull apart the plot and explore re-sequencing the action [insert heavy sigh here]. I can do it, but it just adds more time! I’m appreciating even more those authors that can complete sequels and build a series without spending several years between stories. I certainly hope I can improve with experience!


Written by D. D. Wolf

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I'm on my 5th or 6th career depending on how you count them, but ideally this one will be my last with the kind help of our readers. I've traveled to several states across the U.S., but the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina will always be where I'm most comfortable. I've been an avid reader of comics for more years than I'm going to mention, but I return time after time to the old pulps. Obviously the Doc Savage books have been a tremendous influence. There's just something about seeing and hearing those characters in your mind's eye, just the way YOU, as the reader, think they should be.. I've been writing poems, lyrics and stories of varying quality since I was in my teens, which means most of my archives are on paper in three-ring binders! I've been creating characters in various RPG systems for at least that long. I've always thought characters made the story: good characters can live on through story after story. It wasn't until the last 6 or 7 years that I felt I could write characters well enough to be engaging. You'll have to let me know how I'm doing.

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