Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy

I don’t know why, but for some reason when writing a trilogy I find the second book the hardest.

Book One is simple. Introduce the characters, establish their working relationships with one another, and tease the big, BIG conflict which will happen two books from now.

Following suit, Book Three isn’t much more difficult when you break down its fundamentals. At this point, we know the characters. We know the conflict. Book Three is where everything completely blows up in the characters’ faces at the final battle… and then promptly gets resolved in some fashion during the closing pages.

Book Two, on the other hand, is something entirely different. You don’t have the wonder and amazement that comes with the Book One world and character building. You also don’t have the war-to-end-all-wars conflict which is coming in Book Three. No, Book Two is the “we know what the problem is and now we’re trying to fix it” book. To some, it’s the most boring book out of the whole trilogy. It’s also where a writer can go wrong and derail everything that’s good about the entire series.

Now, how to fix this problem?

To start off, an author needs to make sure that Book Two gets just as much individual attention as both Book One and Book Three. Book Two sometimes get neglected by the author and becomes just another version of Book One, something which can’t happen if you don’t want to lose readers.

Pointer #1: Book Two needs to have it’s own plot, it’s own conflict. Keep the tone of Book One, but don’t let it be a copycat. Find something for your main character to grasp onto and let them run with it. Just remember to let this thing get resolved. This way you’re giving your MC something to do while they prepare to weather the storm that will be Book Three. The overarching BIG conflict is still there, but there’s a definitive conclusion of something smaller.

Pointer #2: Remember the end point of the series. This is important. Generally when writing a series you have an idea of where it’s going to end, so use that to your advantage. Determine where your character needs to be by the time the Great Battle comes and get them there. No matter what.

Depending on who you talk to, there’s another way to go about writing Book Two. Pointer #3: Give another character the stand. There’s always another character (usually secondary) that becomes interesting to the author and readers. If it works with your storytelling style, let them have a voice. Let Book Two be theirs, at least partially. There are lots of novels out there which successfully made Book Two more of a companion-styled book. This doesn’t work for everybody, but it’s a good option for some and definitely something to consider.

Another thought here relating to characters. Pointer #4: Bring in some fresh blood. New characters help to bring life to a story which is stagnant. Let your main character interact with different people than they’re used to. Who knows? Maybe one of these new characters will bring out something in your MC that you didn’t know.

Those are all of the suggestions I can come up with for now. If you can think of anything you’d like to add, please feel free to comment below.

As always, happy writing!

Until next time.

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

With only a few weeks before the 2016 edition of NaNoWriMo starts, I thought I would focus this post on the prep which goes into taking on this daunting task. For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is an even which occurs every year in November, where authors from around the world attempt to write 50 000 words in the 30 day month. If you’d like to know more about it, I wrote a post about it a while back. You can also check out their official website for more information.

Prepping for NaNo is insanity. You need to do character profiles, world-building, plot construction… All of which will require a decent amount of research. And that’s not even including the whole mental preparation side of the matter. Since there are a few ways to complete NaNo (plotting and pantsing), writing prep isn’t always necessary, but I have some tips for those who decide to plan their novels out.

Creating an outline is the suggestion I think helps out the most when it comes to NaNo prep. Without one, you’re left to fend for yourself with plot progression. An outline can be as simple or as complex as you like. Personally, I tend to write out in point form as much detail of every scene I plan to write in chronological order. This helps to keep your thoughts straight and allows for you to pick back up where you left off every day without much hassle. If you’re looking for something more structured to plot your novel around, take a look at this blog post. They have a few different types of templates for story plots, but also some helpful ones for character profiling.

Speaking of character profiling, this is extremely important too. Everyone always focuses on the concern around the plot planning – which is definitely important – but just think about it. If you don’t know how your characters will react in a certain situation, how are you going to write about it? The key is to know the little things about them. Do they have any weird idiosyncrasies? How do they react under pressure? Do they have any nervous tics? Or what about their likes and dislikes? What’s their favourite colour? Season? Food? All of these things might seem useless when it comes to your plot, but knowing them will help you understand your character in more depth. To make them believable, they need to seem real to you.

While prepping for the writing side of NaNoWriMo is good, you need to remember your mind needs some prep as well. This is just as important – you can have everything planned out perfectly, but if something goes wrong along the way, you need to be able to think clearly and handle it quickly.

Tip #1: When you partake in the journey of writing 50 000 words in 30 days, you need to remember just that: you’re trying to write 50 000 words in 30 days. That means what you write doesn’t have to be perfect. It can have mistakes, it can have plot holes. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to just finish. Perfectionism can’t happen during NaNo – if you let it creep in, it’s going to stunt your creativity and make writing that 1600 words per day extremely difficult. I know it’s going to be difficult – trust me, five years in to participating in NaNo and I still want to edit while I write – but you need to shut away your inner perfectionist if you want to finish.

Tip #2: You should lay out a writing schedule. Set a time every day, even if it’s only an hour or two, and stick to it. For those of you that do shift work and can’t set a definite time for every day, that’s alright. I get it, I’ve been there. Instead of a particular time of the day, just try for a time limit. Tell yourself that you will write for an hour every day – it doesn’t matter when, but before that clock strikes midnight every night, you have to have spent an hour writing.

Tip #3: Find a writing group or partner. Mentally, the thought that there’s someone else out there keeping tabs on you will push you to write and stick to that schedule. Check out the NaNo regions page and see if there’s one near the city you live in. They’re really good for setting up write-ins (places where you and other NaNo-ers can meet up and write together) and are a great support group.

So there you have it. Some tips to get your NaNo prep into full swing this year. As always, if you have any other suggestions or comments, please leave them below. Happy writing, everyone! (And to all my Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving!)

Until next time.