What surprised me most about writing a second novel was how very different the experience was for me. The Muse was a lark. I had no expectations of myself or the story at the outset, other than to break through the 10,000-word wall that had defined my writing up to that point in time. I’d never before come up with an idea that I thought merited a novel-length treatment, and I wasn’t even sure I could pull off something of that scope. I was a short-story writer. I could run the quarter-mile, but even thinking about the marathon was overwhelming.
Once I started writing The Muse, all those fears vanished. It was fun–a twisting, turning roller-coaster ride where every bend in the track revealed something new and exciting. It left me exhausted and breathless at the finish, but in a good way. I hadn’t planned to write a second book–I hadn’t planned anything at all, but like the eight-year-old on the roller coaster, I wanted to get back on the ride and do it again, and I knew this time where I wanted to go with the story.
At least, I thought I did.
So, I began writing, and I quickly realized this was going to be a much different ride than the first time. I had a backstory now, and needed to maintain consistency with it and also think about readers who might not have read the first book. My main characters were established, so there were limits on what they would and wouldn’t do. Stan would never say this. Hannah wouldn’t possibly react that way. I had to think about the chronology–would there be a lapse in time since the first book? How long? How will my characters have changed? I wasn’t riding the roller coaster now, I was building it, rivet by rivet. It was still fun, but a more challenging sort of fun, and it took a lot longer.
About a third of the way into the story, I discovered, to my chagrin, that I was writing the wrong story. Something very important had to happen first, and it required a novel of its own. I’d been writing the third book of a trilogy. I had to stop, extract the pieces that belonged in the second book, and start all over again. It was frustrating, but I now understood why I’d been struggling with some aspects of the story, and the writing began to flow more naturally.
Part of the thought process that led to my reboot of The Seer was recognizing its central themes and how they connected to the first book. The Muse was about inspiration and the love between a husband and wife. The Seer was also about inspiration but approached it from a different angle. The focus this time was dreams and destiny, and how they were related to inspiration. The story was also about the love between a father and daughter, coping with loss, and finding new direction and purpose in life afterward.
I also needed to change my concept for developing the plot and pacing the story. I received a lot of feedback on The Muse, including some constructive criticism. Some readers thought it moved too slowly and brought in the supernatural elements of the story too late. I agreed there was room for improvement, so I tried to incorporate that feedback into The Seer, with some success, I think. The changes in my concept also required me to write it with two protagonists, shifting between their points-of-view, unlike The Muse, which I wrote solely from my main character’s perspective.
Finally, I had to deal with the problem that I was now in the middle of a trilogy, and I wanted to provide some setup for the third book without making this one feel like a transitional story or a filler. This was another area where changing the focus was helpful. The Seer isn’t merely a continuation of The Muse, nor is it only an introduction for the story yet to come. I think it stands well on its own merits and can be enjoyed without reference to the other two books, though of course the stories do connect, and I believe they form a richer reading experience as a series.
Want to read the books? They’re both available in print and e-book format from Splashdown Books via Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and Smashwords.com.