Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Insecure Writer and a Lack of Ideas



Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.


Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because of worries that good ideas aren’t coming as quickly as they once did.

Almost four years ago, back when I first began writing the fan fiction story that ultimately hooked me on writing, I had no lack of ideas. It seemed as if every time I daydreamed about my story—whether while driving to and from work, or during showers, or when falling asleep at night—another idea would pop into my head. So many ideas, in fact, that I have now have enough to write a trilogy. And it was this ability to generate ideas that convinced me I just might have what it takes to be an author.

But now that I’m working on my own story, with my own worlds, the ideas aren’t coming quite as quickly. It was easy for me to take the fully fleshed-out world described in the Harry Potter books and come up with new and entertaining twists. But now that I'm in the process of building the basic framework for my world, it’s a lot more work dreaming up all those fun ideas.

But I suppose that’s the way it is for all writers. Which is probably why so many writers write sequels. Once you have the basic framework down, it’s a lot easier to come up with new twists.

Question: Do you find writing a sequel to be easier or harder than the first book in a series?
----------------------------------

BTW, I apologize for my lack of replies to your comments the last few posts.  Things have been pretty busy around here.  I promise to respond to all comments from now on.

21 comments:

  1. Ideas are tricky. Sometimes they come when you don't want them, like while you're trying to get another project done. Then, when you need them, they tend to hide. I think mine are at the bottom of my laundry pile, or perhaps in the sink under the dishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All you can do is take the ideas that appear and store them away for the lean times. I have reams of notes on my desk and in my computer that are just waiting for a story with which to surround them. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  2. Hmm, harder to write sequels or first books? That's a tough question. Sequels are really different from the first book in a series because they have a lot more to live up to. If it's a trilogy, then the sequel is the dreaded Act II. This is heavy, and if you're a fan of star wars, you'll know that book II (original trilogy) had a lot of bad stuff going down. That's how a sequel has to be. But there was all of Jedi to clean everything up. So yeah, a sequel is hard.

    As for ideas, they'll come. You'll get them at the strangest times. And if you get stuck while writing something go with the one question that will always have the right answers "What is the worst thing that could happen to them right now?" Then do that. It's not easy, but it works. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see what you mean. Just because I have lots of ideas for a sequel doesn't mean the execution will be as easy as the first. Oh well, let's just hope that things go well enough that I need to write a sequel.

      Delete
  3. It's a mixed bag, IMO.

    The sequel I wrote was easier because I had the basic story down and because I knew the characters well, but it was more difficult because I had to keep track of the details and stay true to my cannon. (In fact, I decided to complete both before publishing either one so I could tweak things in the first book if needed.) Because book 2 was a continuation of the story/plot from book 1, deciding how much backstory to work in and how to do it was an issue.

    Another thing I have to watch now that I've written the sequel is, when I go back to the first ms, I tend to write my MCs as more familiar with each other than they should be. *shakes head* Gotta watch those relationships and character arcs.

    Great post! :)
    IWSG #118 until Alex culls the list again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clarification: When I go back to the first ms to edit and polish it... ;)

      Delete
    2. Sounds like a smart idea. It will make your sequel feel like it was planned from the beginning, which always makes your fictional world seem more real.

      BTW, how close is your first manuscript to being finished?

      Delete
    3. BTW, I've moved down to #66 on Alex's list. :)

      Delete
  4. I find sequels harder because it is such a risk of my time. I have to sell the first book to sell the second.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you. Although I've also seen it suggested that it's almost better two have a couple of books out before you sell the first. Gives a reader who likes your books a chance to buy another immediately. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  5. I actually find writing sequels harder. The characters require new arcs, and I have to get all the details right. In a new book I can invent everything. I enjoy the inventing. The sequels make me money and get me fans, though. So you know what I'll be writing... both. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I do have to admit that I had a lot of freedom the first time around. In fact, the main plot line and character traits changed quite a bit as the story progressed. I suppose I won't have the luxury of such freedom on the sequel -- assuming I ever write it.

      Delete
  6. A sequel has the history and setting, but that unique new spark still has to be there in a second and third book. That's what I'm working on now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish you luck finding that new spark for you sequels. I can only hope that I have the chance to worry about that problem someday. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. I haven't gotten there yet, but I suspect working within the bounds I already set, unable to change them at a whim to make something happen, it's going to be harder to write a sequel. But I've already listed a few things I want to happen in 3 future books, so I'm trying not to write anything contrary in my first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. Changing things on a whim just to make my story stronger happened (is happening) a lot during the first book. I suspect I will miss that flexibility in a sequel.

      Delete
  8. I can relate to the lack of ideas.
    A sequel is both easier and more difficult. Yes, the groundwork is laid as far as the world and the characters, but there is the added pressure of making it better than the original.
    Just keep pressing through and writing, Ken!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm... Hadn't even thought about the pressure of making the sequel even better than the original. Now I have another thing to be insecure about. Argggh!

      Delete
  9. Keep in mind though that you've known the Harry Potter characters for years and years. Chances are, you've known the characters you've created for this story for a much shorter period of time. My guess is that once you've learned the more intimate details about them, the ideas will flourish. Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. Right now my new characters are all fairly generic. I'm sure they'll begin taking on more definite traits as the story progresses, the same way my characters did in my fan fiction story.

      Delete
  10. Great post, Ken. Thanks for this. I'm hoping that I get to write the next book in my series--I don't want to leave that world yet. I think that's why I'm struggling with diving into a new project. I think that there's so much more to work with when doing a sequel!

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget