Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sequel Writing

Since book-3, The Dragon Princess, is with our professional editor, we’re working to get book-4 into a final draft so we can send it off to our advanced readers. Bobbie Titan in The Alternate Way is a sequel to our first novel and we’re finding new challenges from continuing a story instead of starting a new one.

When we write a novel from scratch, our goal is to get the reader hooked right away and then let the characters and plot deepen as the story continues. In a sequel we’re finding that it takes a new balancing act. We’re wrestling with how much background from the first story is required to remind return readers and provide foundation for new readers. We don’t want to lose anyone, but we also want to keep the new story fresh and not bog it down rehashing what happened before. And we really want this story to expand the world of super-teenagers we invented in the first book. We’re not fans of authors who are so in love with what they created that they can’t move the story along in a sequel. We want our loyal readers to think, “I didn’t see that coming,” while reading Bobbie-2.

We also don’t want our characters to stagnate. Since we received a lot of compliments on the characters in Bobbie-1, there was a tendency to keep them the same and just give them a new story. But that doesn’t feel real to us. They may be super, but they’re still teenagers and young people experience radical changes, particularly emotionally, in very short periods of time. We wanted our characters to do the same, even at the risk of making them less appealing. And we wanted to let our characters live the full range of emotions that teenagers do today, even if they aren’t universally accepted. It would have been easier to stick to the standard formula for young adult novels and not risk offending some sensibilities, but we decided against it. One of the real joys of being independent is that you are not forced to play it safe to appease a publisher’s idea of what is politically correct.

Finally, in this book, we want to propose a completely unique moral dilemma for our characters. We want our readers to stop and ponder what they would do given the same choice we give the KARI kids, and come away not sure what they would decide. To do that, the reader needs to understand the structure underlying this difficult decision; however, we can’t turn our adventure story into a dry dissertation on super cells. We think we’ve balanced the information flow with the right amount of narrative, but we won’t be sure until we get the comments back from our advanced readers.

We should be done with the final draft in a week or two. Then we’ll send it out and wait to see if we’ve achieved our desired results. If you would like to read an advance copy of Bobbie Titan in The Alternate Way, and are willing to answer questions we’ll post on the last page, let us know. We’ll send you a copy in your favorite electronic format.

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