Today I’m thrilled to have award winning author Kourtney Heinz here to talk about the challenges of writing a sequel. I met Kourtney several years ago and since our meeting, her writing career has taken off. I’m so happy for her. She’s a hard worker and deserves great success.
The Five Unexpected Difficulties of Writing a Sequel
1) What did those curtain look like?
The curtains in Aunt Ines’s kitchen had a daffodil print in book 1 and in book 2 they were daffodil embroidered. The copyeditor missed it. I missed it until I was working on the revisions to the first book. I have a story bible that I checked to make sure those darn curtains had daffodils. I just neglected to remember they were print, not embroidered. And then I had to fix it in Highway Thirteen’s final ebook and paperback.
Being specific has its pitfalls. Those little details will trip you up. Make sure you check and double-check them.
2) Did I really say that in book 1?
Despite having a story bible, it’s really hard to remember everything in my worldbuilding. So much is inferred and not directly stated in the book. Sometimes I get tangled up in my worldbuilding, and I forget what I said in book 1. My editor had to remind me that Oliver called Caleb to help Kai during her previous mental breakdown.
But I had a little wiggle room because Oliver didn’t know Kai dreamwalked and talked to Caleb. So sometimes it’s what the character didn’t know the other character did that trips me up. That stuff that is only in my head and not recorded anywhere yet. Also, a character can be certain he was the reason something happened when he really wasn’t.
I have to remember all the things unsaid and make sure my next book doesn’t conflict in an way that cannot be explained away.
3) Being Goldilocks when it comes to recaps
In my second draft of book 2, my beta readers demanded more context and background. This meant recapping things that happened in book 1. But then how much recap is enough and where should it happen? It’s been 3 years since the first book came out. Do I assume readers have forgotten everything?
That was my next approach and my editor told me there was too much recapping and background. First version had too little, second version had too much. She slashed a lot of it. Hopefully this version is just right.
Sometimes you have to underwrite, then overwrite, and finally come to a happy medium with recaps.
4) Being boxed in by book 1
When I wrote the first book, I could create anything and there was no worry that it might conflict with something else. It was all new. Now whenever I want to create a character arc, plot thread, or character action, I have to check back and make sure it doesn’t conflict with what I set up in the previous book.
Kai drinks wine in NYC and she drank rum in the hot tub in Butternut in book 1, but then in book 2 she mentions how hard liquor messes with her telepathy. When she’s in the city she doesn’t drink much—maybe 1 glass of wine because she can’t afford to lose control of her shield and her telepathy. But in Butternut, where her shield was under much less stress, she could drink a little hard liquor.
Make sure there is consistency in character’s actions or a clear explanation for why they are doing something they normally wouldn’t.
5) Fear of readers’ expectations
This led me to write a very timid first draft. I was so afraid that readers wouldn’t like what I was doing that I didn’t do much. My poor beta readers were terribly bored by the version they read.
They pushed me in the correct direction. My editor made sure there was oodles of conflict and that the pacing was right and every scene built upon the previous one.
Sometimes you have to write a bad draft to get to a good draft. Sometimes you have to let your fears dictate a terrible draft because then you realize that letting them go is the only way to get to a better book.
FREEBIE FOR OCTOBER
I also wanted to let your readers know, the first book in the series, The Six Train to Wisconsin, will be free on Amazon in October. I hate jumping into a series without reading book 1 first, so if they’d like to try the series out, they can read the first book free: http://www.amazon.com/Six-Train-Wisconsin-Book-ebook/dp/B00CJIXKG2
Back Cover Summary:
His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.
Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.
Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.
The sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin is a genre-defying tale of love and consequences. Once again, award-winning author Kourtney Heintz seamlessly weaves suspense and paranormal intrigue into a real-world setting, creating characters rich in emotional and psychological complexity.
Kourtney Heintz is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Six Train to Wisconsin (2013), the first book in The Six Train to Wisconsin series. She also writes bestselling young adult novels under the pseudonym K.C. Tansley. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
She has given writing workshops and author talks at libraries, museums, universities, high schools, conventions, wineries, non-profits organizations, and writing conferences. She has been featured in the Republican American of Waterbury, Connecticut; on WTNH’s CT Style; and on the radio show, Everything Internet.
She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amok at night, envisioning a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.