In a little less than 2 months, The Inquisitor’s Mark comes out. Traditional publishing is strange in that the gap in time between the writing of the book and the release of the book is SO LONG, I can hardly remember what it was like. In fact, when I sat down to write this post, I had to go back and check the beginning date on the first draft to remember when the heck I even wrote it. I was surprised to discover that I started the first draft exactly 2 years ago today. (I wrote this post on 12/4, btw.)
Then I went through all my blog posts from that time period. These are the things that I recorded in my blog about the process of writing my first sequel (my blog being the closest thing I have to a diary):
- Writing the second book in a series presents a new set of issues to be insecure about. Your cool premise is no longer original. Readers are familiar with it from the first book, and they want to know: What else have you got?
- For each of my characters, there is only one way to go. It may seem as if they have choices, but they don’t. Not if the story is to move forward. They (and I) have to keep following the path that’s open until we all get to the bottom of the hill.
- My WIP has me by the throat and will not let go. Even at work, I walk around muttering to myself in the voices of my characters, drawing little maps on scraps of paper, and choreographing action scenes.
- Over the 3-day President’s Weekend, I wrote 9,000 words. My feet finally touched the ground around noon on Monday when I typed THE END on the first draft of THE EIGHTH DAY #2.
- I started the draft on December 4. Seventy-seven days from beginning to end. I know that might not seem like a feat to anyone who’s succeeded at NaNo – producing 50,000 words in 30 days. But this is the fastest I’ve ever written a manuscript.
- I had an outline for this book. But I realized, right before I hit SEND and zapped the manuscript to my editor, that my favorite parts of Book 2 were never in the outline at all.
- I had a new character sharing POV with my MC, but I didn’t know anything about his personality and motivation when I started writing. I didn’t discover it until halfway through the first draft, and the revelation, when it came, required the addition of a subplot that wasn’t in the outline. (PS – I didn’t know it then, but that unplanned sub-plot ended up being crucial for Book 3.)
- One of my very favorite scenes in the book (involving a garbage chute and a fire ladder) is an event that was never planned.
- The climactic action scene was plotted out right before I needed to write it – at a restaurant in the Pocono Mountains during a ski trip. “Listen everybody,” I said, commandeering all the forks and knives and a few condiments to make a diagram on the table. “I need to know how these people can fight this creature in this confined space. And since there’s an exit right over here, why don’t they just run away instead?” My husband and daughters were nonplussed by this demand. My daughter’s friend looked kind of surprised, but also vindicated – as if she suspected all along that Gabbey’s writer mom was a nutjob.
Overall, I think the writing of The Inquisitor’s Mark was one of my most intense writing experiences yet. It was fun to look back at how I experienced it at the time, to remember all the really neat things that were never in the original plan for that book.
I hope readers enjoy the finished product!