How to continue momentum with the second book in a series

Is writing the second book in a series any easier than the first?

Erica Lainé is the author of the Isabella of Angouleme trilogy and she recently shared her experiences of starting and sustaining a book series.  In her first blog, which you can read here, we talked about how she started out on her novel-writing journey.  Today Erica tells us about Isabella of Angouleme The Tangled Queen, Part 2.

Was it easy getting started on Part 2?

No - it wasn’t any easier than starting the first book but it was different. In a way I thought I had something to prove. I had to prove that I could sustain the flow and the character development – and there were things I knew now which I hadn’t known when starting Part 1 which helped me get going.

Such as?

Well, a mix of things really:

  • An important one was that I realised very quickly that I needed to keep a chart for work in progress: a story so far chart because otherwise I became bogged down in the plotline and chronology. I set up a chapter heading, a brief synopsis and a word count, once as a narrative and once as a chart so I had the same information in three columns. I could then highlight words and see where I needed to check on incidents or chronology. The charts were invaluable as the book grew and grew.  If you're writing historical fiction, I highly recommend a chart.
  • I’d already had feedback from readers and advice from the Historical Novelists Society after they’d read Part 1 and I was able to use all of this for Part 2.  Some readers said they would have liked me to explore the characters a little more – to get psychologically closer to them, to write more about inner feelings. So by asking myself, ‘what is she/he feeling now?’ at various points throughout the creative process I strove to achieve that deeper connection that readers were wanting.
  • I had also learnt that I could end chapters without tidying up the entire story, encouraging the reader to read on. Advice on how to become a writer always says that to become good at anything you must practice and it’s true – as I was writing Part 2 I grew more confident in weaving the historical facts with fiction.
  • I went to the 2016 Historical Novelists Society conference and listened to amazing historical fiction authors talk about their creative processes and met and talked to many indie writers like me. At the conference I bought Emma Darwin’s Writing Historical Fiction. I recommend this to historical fiction writers – it confirmed that I was on the right path - as did meeting other writers.  No matter what genre you write, chat with other authors and writers, they are an invaluable source of support and knowledge.

By this stage with a combination of the above activities and research, I was immersed in my 13th century world again and hoped to immerse readers too.  I was in full flow and in my final blog I will share how Part 2 actually became Part 2 AND Part 3.

For more information about Erica and the Isabella of Angouleme series, visit Erica’s website.