As a new author I thought the hardest part of writing was finishing a book and getting someone to believe in your work enough to want to publish it and let the world see it. It took me five years to finish my novel, The Chosen and I learned a lot about the writing process during those five years. Before writing a novel, I was writing short stories or flash fictions and though those can be difficult writing a novel takes a different sort of discipline that I didn’t think I had in me. I spent about another year or so querying agents, self publishing, and researching independent publishers before settling down with Red Willow Digital Press.
With The Chosen in their hands, I thought I could relax and that most of the pressure would be off my shoulders. Sure I still need to market, but the great thing is: I won’t be doing it alone. And my mind is at ease knowing that my novel, the novel that I had worked on for so many years constantly revising and nurturing, is finally getting the editing it deserves. So I sat down, put my feet up, and began working on the first draft of The Number, the sequel to The Chosen. You know that pressure that I thought was gone once my first novel was taken away by Red Willow and completed? Well it came back. With a vengeance.
The Chosen, in my eyes, is good. I wrote it when I was a teen so I’m hoping that the voice of the book rings true with the YA audience. And now that I look back, I see every little spot that could be better. Taking that into account and grabbing everything that I learned about writing while working on The Chosen, I went full steam ahead into making sure that The Number is just as good or better than its predecessor. Sequels are tough. I know Hollywood is a great example if you want to analyze how important the sequel can be. There are plenty of sequels of blockbuster hits out there that, well, didn’t do too well and have been forgotten. But the sequels that have stood up to their predecessors, that are just as good — if not better — are the series that are always remembered and always leave the audience running for more.
After all, one of the strongest trilogies in Hollywood is Toy Story (if you didn’t cry at the end you don’t have a heart). And one of the strongest series in the book world is Harry Potter. Why? Because every movie or book that followed the first was just as good, if not better. And people love to scrutinize and over analyze the sequel and compare the two because they remembered loving the first.
So, do I feel the pressure of writing a fantastic sequel? Yes and I didn’t think I would. I keep finding myself comparing my current manuscript with the first book and asking myself: if this happened in the first book, would I keep it? I find it helps keep the integrity of my series in tact. Keeping the pressure on and making sure every word counts like it could be the last is not only the art of the sequel: it’s the art of writing your best every time.