vrijdag 6 december 2013

Sequels


Most of you know by now that my first novel “Coyote: The Outlander” is the first in a series. Some of you might even know that this book actually started out as a short story, or even further back, because Coyote was my role play character for a Deadlands campaign we had going in my early twenties.


Old Coyote drawing
Old Coyote drawing

First Coyote drawing made somewhere in 2000
I always wanted to give her a story of her very own and when I was asked to write something for the Indiana Science Fiction anthology in 2012, I somehow thought I could use Coyote for my story. Because it was meant for a science fiction anthology, I decided to work with aliens. It worked for Cowboys versus aliens (though I have to admit I never actually saw more than 20 minutes of that movie) and I love Firefly which is Cowboys in space. I decided to work with my own form of Aliens, because I wanted them to be more like either ‘humans’ or ‘monsters’ than I wanted them to be like cliché ‘aliens’, and I ended up calling them Outlanders. Using the rips in the fabric of time and reality helped me play around with the world.

I set out to write this 4000 word story. I had the whole story in my head and when I started to write it, I realized I couldn’t tell it in 4000 words. Instead I wrote ‘the Deal’ for Indiana Sci-fi and I made a longer short story out of Coyote for some competition I then considered entering, which allowed me 10.000 words.

10.000 wasn’t enough either, and after talking to my husband, we both agreed Coyote deserved a novel of her own. Together with the second screen pieces I told her story in 45.000 words, and it’s still not done… because there will be four more books.

During my journey with Coyote I discovered a lot more about Steampunk, and it’s no surprise really that I decided to use more Steampunk visuals in the setting of the second book entitled ‘The Clockwork Dragonfly.’

But writing a sequel is not as easy as I thought. Sure I have a story in mind, and it’s one I quite enjoy. Yet there are a lot of new factors when you’re writing a sequel.

For one… I want my characters to experience growth. This is not as easy as it may sound, because you create certain expectations with your characters, and you need to stick to that as well, but they can’t become monotonous. As a reader I’ve read so many series that failed to let their characters grow, and I always found it very irritating. In many occasions I really got bored with a series and couldn’t make it past book three, before wanting to hurl books across the room. It’s easy to judge as a reader, but as a writer… it’s not easy to create a subtle and natural growth for your characters.

One of the writers who does this really well is JK Rowling. Harry Potter went through an amazing journey and grew up throughout the books, while he still remained a believable character. I really admire JK’s skill… especially now that I’m attempting to do the same. Coyote started off as a 23 year old, so her growth should not be as steep as Harry Potter’s. However her discovery (not going to give spoilers, so read the book, lol) will change her, and the dynamics in the relationships.

And then there are the other characters around her who need to grow as well. I can’t keep Caesar as her shadow throughout five books, I need to give him his own journey, without taking away from the original feel of the stories.

When I wrote Coyote I wanted the books to be fun. But fun should be interspersed with a little bit of tragedy too, to keep the story interesting. It’s difficult to find the balance in having a more in depth storyline, while still making it fun. I have more experience in writing horror and misery than I have in writing ‘fun’, so there lies another challenge.

Right now I’m juggling with characters and relationships and still having the story move forwards. At the same time I’m trying to remember the little inane details about the characters I’ve used in the books before.

Today I was wondering what I named Coyote’s horse. The plan for her horse was to make it her mother’s horse and make it an Outlander too, but somewhere along the line I decided that this would be too much ‘loose plot’ and wouldn’t really add to the story, so I took that part out… but I actually didn’t remember if I named the horse or not. Little things like that can get confusing. I try to keep a lot of notes, but remembering what Savage Sam looked like made me have to go through the book again.

It’s fun writing sequels, but it’s a lot harder than I gave it credit for. I hope I can make a nice series out of the Coyote novels, and keep my readers interested and not invoke the ‘I want to throw the book across the room’ feelings.  





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