The Challenges of Writing Book #2 in A Series...
For some reason, I always thought writing the second book in a series would be easier than writing the first. It makes sense doesn’t it? You’ve already done the groundwork - the character development, the worldbuilding, the set-up for what’s to come… However, when I started writing Reign of Mist, Book II in my trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles, I was unpleasantly surprised to find this was not the case.
Writing and rewriting Reign of Mist drained the life out of me for a number of reasons. The first being that much of the process felt like a heavy exercise in problem solving. While I had plotted the main points of trilogy and each book, my planning left a fair bit to be desired. For example, while writing Book II, I realised that characters who needed to be together for certain events, were halfway across the realm from each other. I had to work out how to realistically get people back together so particular plot points could occur. There were numerous instances like this, having a realisation dawn on me and feeling utterly overwhelmed by the scope of what I’d set out to do. It was exhausting, especially because I needed a very critical mindframe for this sort of work, when usually the writing stage is a lot more liberating!
I also found it challenging making decisions about what to include in Book II and what to leave for Book III. As you can imagine, it’s vital that each book can standalone to a certain extent - yes, they’re part of a series, but they should still have their own narrative arcs and climaxes. It was difficult to decide which epic events went in what book, and whether or not I’d sprinkled enough “bread crumbs” throughout the previous book for plot points to work. I wanted this book to be mind blowing, but had to keep in mind that there was still one more book to come in the series. My beta readers were incredible in this sense. I turned to them constantly for advice about what was working and what wasn’t. Without them, I’m not sure I would have made it to the end of this novel.
Another challenging aspect of writing this book was dealing with the pressure that came from my debut. Heart of Mist was far more successful than I ever anticipated, and I found that as I wrote the sequel, I felt a different kind of pressure on my shoulders. I felt pressure to outdo the first book and pressure to please the readers who had enjoyed it. I didn’t want to let anyone down. Of course, much of this pressure came from myself. Though I think that’s definitely something a lot of writers do. I kept asking myself, “now that HoM had been a success, what if Reign of Mist isn’t?” All of these factors played on my mind as I wrote, leaving me feeling more stressed than ever.
What I’ve come to realise and accept throughout this process is that no one book is going to be “easier” to write than another, they’re just going to be different. And this is something that I’m going to have to remind myself of as I dive back into writing Book III in The Oremere Chronicles.
Reign of Mist, Book II in The Oremere Chronicles is now available on Amazon.
Heart of Mist is available in ebook, paperback and audiobook now.
Helen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the bestselling first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit, an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world. Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.
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