I’m totally thrilled to be starting my blog tour for book two in The Snowdonia Chronicles: Here be Witches.
During the next five days I will be interviewing myself on HOW TO WRITE A SEQUEL!
So here goes …
Sarah interviews Sarah on how to write a sequel in a thrilling and compelling romantic fantasy!
Welcome to the world of WRITING A SEQUEL.
I am going to use Here be Witches to explain my thinking on how to give it a go.
Okay great. I shall be asking you lots of questions so here we go.
What is Here be Witches really about?
Here be Witches is the second chronicle in the story of Ellie and the mountains of North Wales, its myths and its magic – and how Ellie is ready to do anything for love!
In fact here’s a sneak preview of the back cover…
All Ellie Morgan wants is to be with her one true love, Henry. But she’s caught in the MIDDLE OF A BATTLE as old as SNOWDON itself. A battle between GOOD and EVIL.
A WITCHES’ SPELL, cast high on the mountain, has sped up time and made matters MUCH WORSE. The dragons are awake; mythical creatures and evil ghosts have risen.
And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.
Thank heavens for loyal friend George, disloyal bestie Rhi, and mysterious stranger, Davey. Armed with Granny Jones’s potions, Ellie and her companions must set out on a journey to REVERSE THE SPELL, stop the EVIL White Dragon and find Henry.
As an eternal winter tightens its grip on Snowdon, Ellie and her friends have only THREE DAYS to SURVIVE and complete their quest.
THE SEQUEL TO HERE BE DRAGONS – A PERILOUS ADVENTURE INTO THE MAGICAL AND MURDEROUS REALM OF MYTHICAL SNOWDONIA
So Sarah how did you set out to write this sequel to Here be Dragons? Was it difficult? And is it true that the second book in a series or a trilogy is always the hardest? If so why?
Yes, I think writing a sequel to any book is always hard. This is because even though you have your cast of characters well established in your mind, you struggle to find fresh, new and interesting ways to introduce them to the reader. In addition to that, there is the problem of how you let the readers know the story so far. You could employ many interesting ways to bring the reader up to speed (if they somehow have not managed to read book one or received the books in the wrong order). But exposition is always tricky, as it weighs like dead matter on the storyline. It’s not something you really want to have to dump in the text at the start of a story. This in itself makes writing sequels a challenge. Here are some ways you could try: there is the old trick of having your protagonist tell a friend about their previous adventures. Then there is the cunning ploy of introducing the arrival of a stranger who needs to know the full story. In Here be Witches I bring the reader up to date firstly through an imaginary conversation that Ellie has with her mum (who is ignorant of the adventures in book one) and finish the update later on through the ‘arrival of the stranger’ trope. Here is an extract from the start of Here be Witches on exactly how I constructed that first important expositional update.
Focus on what to tell Mum. Currently, she doesn’t know anything at all about Henry. Plus she is sound asleep.
But how to tell?
I imagine a wake-up scene in my head:
ME: OK, (clears imaginary throat) I’m going out, mostly because of something that started last Christmas.
ME: You see, I met this boy, but I never told you about him.
ME: And it’s a long story, but the short version is: he is a dragon.
MUM: Ellie, if he’s not very nice, are you sure you should keep on seeing him?
ME: I’m not ‘seeing him’, and he is very nice. I mean he really is a dragon – you know fire and wings – not bad tempered or whatever.
MUM: OOooooh – kaaay.
ME: So I have to go out to check he’s locked up in his cave.
MUM: All right darling. That’s just fine. A pitch-dark freezing night is a fabulous time to go on a date/visit an inmate/check your pet monster is under control. Off you go. By the way, my first boyfriend was a three-headed griffin with bad breath. Have fun!
Short and snappy? Fun to read (hopefully)? Information delivered!
Wow –that’s cool! That didn’t bog the storyline down at all. In fact it was quite entertaining. Well done! So what else did you have to consider in writing Here be Witches?
Well, once the reader was up to speed, and a dilemma had been introduced, then the story was ready to get going. Although it was important for me to base the background of book two, Here be Witches, on the established world I’d created in Here be Dragons, a new adventure was needed and a new dilemma or threat posed. However Ellie’s goal (to be with her one true love) needed to remain as an overarching goal – and I needed to introduce a unique interim story goal for book two. Then obviously obstacles to that goal would need to be introduced (that were thrilling) with clever solutions (that were compelling to read).
I see. So how exactly did you create a new exciting dilemma for Here be Witches and retain the old goals of your protagonist?
This is what I had to remind myself of in starting my sequel in Here be Witches.
The story equation:
CHARACTER + GOAL – PROBLEMS + SOLUTIONS = NARRATIVE
Example from FINDING NEMO:
A clown fish named Marlin lives in the Great Barrier Reef loses his son, Nemo. After he ventures into the open sea, despite his father's constant warnings about many of the ocean's dangers. Nemo is abducted by a boat and netted up and sent to a dentist's office in Sydney. So, while Marlin ventures off to try to retrieve Nemo, Marlin meets a fish named Dory, a blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss. The companions travel a great distance, encountering various dangerous sea creatures such as sharks, anglerfish and jellyfish, in order to rescue Nemo from the dentist's office, which is situated by Sydney Harbor. While the two are doing this, Nemo and the other sea animals in the dentist's fish tank plot a way to return to Sydney Harbor to live their lives free again.
- Written by Anonymous
CHARACTER (Marlin) + GOAL (Find Nemo) – PROBLEMS (sharks etc ) + SOLUTIONS (run/escape/make allies etc) = NARRATIVE
This is really exciting – can you share your story synopsis for Here be Witches and tell us how you implemented it?
Yes I can but this blog post is going on for too long now so watch out for the next one, blog post two, tomorrow!