Now I Know Why Authors Write Sequels

I have writers block … and it’s bad, like really, really bad.

I have the idea for book two fleshed out … it’s titled and outlined and plotted down to the very end … and still, I cannot write it.  I can’t figure out how to put these characters into their lives and how or why they’d be where they are.  Well … that’s not exactly true … I do know the why and the how … it’s the elaborating that I simply fail at.

It’s absolutely the most frustrating thing in the whole world … I could literally rip my hair out at the root, bash my head against the wall, quit and just walk away.  Oh, I’ve tried to get past this mental road block.  I think — counting today — I’ve started this story eight times over the last three months.  I have started from various points of view, places in the story, points in time.  I’ve closed the computer and walked away … I’ve forced myself to sit in front of it for hours watching the annoying optimistic cursor flashing.  I’ve tried reading … tried watching movies … tried thinking about one hundred other things hoping that along the way the small fire of brilliance would kindle itself to self.  Yet … here I sit with a few thousand useless words.

Truthfully, I’ve got nothing … nada … zilch.

Now I get it, the reason why authors squeal over sequels … because they just know everything there is to know, the map is draw, the characters are flesh and bone, the conflict is primed and ready for paint.  New books … they give you nothing.

I was lucky the first time around.  I came home with a story … and I wrote it so quickly.  I lucked out big time.

My greatest fear is being a “one-hit-wonder” — and I’m not even saying book one will be a hit, just that, in this moment, I fear that’s the only solid story in me.  There is no longevity in doing something once.  Its the time and time again that gives a person fulfillment.

Recently I read an article about that girl from Hairspray (the movie) … Nicky Blonsky.  You may remember her story.  She was working at Coldstone Creamery … the ice cream store … when she was discovered.  Thrust into the world of Hollywood, she starred opposite John Trivolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes, and Zac Effron.  She was a big deal for a hot minute.  Now … she works at a hair salon … doing makeup.  Take it from me … that is not glamorous work.  She’s talented … she can sing, she dance … but she could never recapture the fire of her Hairspray … she couldn’t turn it into a career.

She tried, sure.  Some ABC Family network show and a few other little gigs on Lifetime, but nothing stuck … and now, she’s just another MUA working the counter in a small town salon.  And I’m not saying that isn’t honest work … because it is, believe me, I know … but it’s not what she wanted, and I’m sure it’s nothing she ever saw coming.

Writing is hard work … it’s frustrating work.  I am at a place where I realize I may need to give up the ghost … walk away from my idea and my work and either breathe for a while or start something new — what that would be, I don’t know — but this is not a good thing.



5 thoughts on “Now I Know Why Authors Write Sequels

  1. If you’ve said everything there is to say about your characters, there’s no point trying to write a sequel. My sequel to my first novel was the easiest thing I’d ever written, up to that point. Why? Because I had given my characters real lives that pointed toward the future.

    • Certain books lend themselves to sequels. Mine doesn’t. I write Literary Fiction … or, Women’s Fiction. The genre is best suited for shot deals. This second book … it’s all brand new, which of course is why I have writers block. I can’t figure my characters out just yet.

  2. Yeah, figuring out your characters can be darned hard. But I consider it the most important part of writing. Of course, my books are character-driven rather than plot-driven. But I find that if I make a start, even not knowing everything there is to know about the characters, they will develop along the way. They can surprise you, if you let them.

  3. If this book’s giving you this much trouble, one possibility is that it’s simply not this book’s time. Maybe it needs to sit in a half-forgotten corner for a bit — maybe come back someday as your Book Three or Four or Ten — and another story idea would be more willing to turn into your Book Two.

    I can totally empathize with your wanting to get another story out of you now, now, now! That’s part of my process after every “The End”: A few days or weeks of a breather after having lived Story X for however long, then, “Okay, need to be writing, what’s next?” So if the story you’re trying to work on now is refusing to be written, don’t let it get you stuck and discouraged. Another novel, or perhaps a short story or two, may be just itching to be your next project; and the troublesome tale you’re dealing with now may well come back later, better than ever.

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