Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Book 3 in a Trilogy

So I'm in this delightful lull between finishing copyedits on book 1 and receiving an edit letter on book 2. Where you guessed it, I'm working on book 3 again. Writing life is funny when you're working on a trilogy set to come out at six month intervals. Rarely a dull week!

So I haven't written, as in full on drafting, since November, when I started book 3 in NaNoWriMo. Thankfully I got a good 20k into it before other edits intervened, and I stare at those 70 pages I have already written on it gratefully. It's a good feeling to have a head-start, but I still want to make more of a dent on it while I have a bit of time here before it's due in May. I'm no good with the stress of deadlines. I like to have a first draft WELL beforehand so I can avoid stress-writing, which is generally passion-less writing.

But the trick, as always when I've gone a few months without drafting, is getting back into the swing of it. I'd compare it to training for a marathon, but then, I hate sports metaphors :) So let's just say, it always takes a few days with slow-spurt starts. Like today, I managed 1,500 words. But I cheated a little. Usually I make myself go chronologically, but I let myself skip ahead and write the epic ending scene. Which, as you can imagine as the end of a trilogy, is VERY EPIC. When I'm getting back into drafting, it's all these little tricks that help. Tomorrow I'll go back to writing chronologically, and doing responsible grown-up things like plotting out scenes before I write them.

A very good and genius friend, Jodi Meadows, gave a piece of advice I've always kept in mind for when sequels are daunting: treat each book as a standalone. As if this was the first book in a trilogy, when you're super jacked up about the idea and the characters. Because here's a secret, blogosphere: I'm having a love affair with another book idea in my head. But to get to that one, of course, I have to write this one. So every morning lately when I wake up dreaming of that book, I try to slow down, and think of what I want to do with this book. I ask myself these questions:

-What do I love in great trilogy-ending books?
-What do I hate in trilogies I feel have let me down as a reader?
-What themes and big ideas have I set up in Book 1 and 2 that I really want to give satisfaction here in book 3?
-What new things can I introduce to make this book and the characters brand new again to me?

And for me folks, I won't lie, it's all about the romance and character growth. That's what I love, what draws me to books and trilogies. I've got all the events and action plotted out for book 3, but how do I give it heart? How do I make readers cringe and yearn with epic melodrama?


  1. I'm not there yet, Heather, but this will be great advice in a few months. And I didn't know you were doing 6-month intervals between books--phew! No wonder you've been so busy! I know it's going to be a stunning trilogy; can't wait to read Book 2!

  2. This is fantastic advice! You can't beat the advice from other writers. Like Evie, I'm nowhere near Book 3 yet, hell, I'm still in the planning stages of book one, but this advice I know I'm going to take with me! Like you, Heather, I tend to have awesome book dreams and wake up thinking WOW! That's awesome! but then realise I should be concentrating on said book I actually want to complete. My biggest problem is though, I think too far into the future and start thinking about book 2 & 3!!!

  3. Thanks Eve and Hannah! It's a crazy thing to be working through a trilogy, I feel like there's more to learn and figure out about every time I sit down to write!