During my blog tour I am 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, I’m going to continue to ask Sarah lots of questions to find out all her writing secrets!
For those who are just catching up with your blog tour – can you recap on what Here be Witches is all about?
Here be Witches is the second story in the series The Snowdonia Chronicles
THE SEQUEL TO HERE BE DRAGONS – A PERILOUS ADVENTURE INTO THE MAGICAL AND MURDEROUS REALM OF MYTHICAL SNOWDONIA
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 and evil creatures have risen.
And nearly all of them want Ellie DEAD.
Now I seem to remember that you promised to tell us then how you dealt with ‘off stage’ scenes and what devices you used to help the reader feel present at the action in Here be Witches?
Yes I did! Right, I sorted out the problem of Ellie not being present at the initial witches ceremony, by introducing it as a prologue written in the third person. This separated the action in the spell-casting ceremony, from the first person narration of the entire story by Ellie, my chosen point-of-view character. Some writers frown upon the use of prologues, but in YA fiction and often in the fantasy genre the use of a prologue is quite traditional.
My rule of thumb is if it works use it and don’t be too worried about what so-called ‘wisdom’ says. I particularly liked the use of a witches’ spell-casting scene at the beginning of the story, as I felt it was reminiscent of Macbeth (can’t be a bad thing!) and it also acted as a hook to bring the reader into the story straight away before falling back to tell them what had happened in the previous novel of the series.
Here is an excerpt. The witches must speed up the passage of time to break the high magic and release the dragons … I even used Macbeth-style poetry for the spell casting!
29th February Leap Year
At the witching hour upon the eve of St David’s Day
THE GIRL TURNS HER MASKED FACE TO THE SUMMIT, above her the air shudders. Just seconds left. If only she can time it right. Heart pounding, blood hammering, she poises herself. She pulls out the mirror, angles it, catches the refection of the dark night and the stars.
I can do this, she tells herself. I am the High Priestess. I am the Supreme One.
Then she recites aloud:
‘Fair is foul – foul is fair –
By water, fire, earth and air,
Fair is foul – foul is fair –
Let those who challenge me, BEWARE –
Fair is foul – foul is fair –
FOR I WILL DESTROY THE DRAGONS’ LAIR!’
WOW! I can see what you mean by opening with a hook. I certainly want to know what happens next!
Well I can’t do a spoiler, but I can tell you that in the process of writing the sequel I had to decide about the character cast. I had to decide, should I keep the characters exactly the same as in book one – if not … who should figure in book two and did I need any new characters?
So tell me how you decided that?
Well, the opening of any story must draw the reader into the setting of the story, and reveal the everyday life the hero has been living. This is true of a sequel as well as a standalone story. The only problem is that if my reader has read book one they probably don’t really want to read a repeat of information that they already know. So I had to do find inventive ways of sketching out the setting and the world that my characters lived in for those that hadn’t read book one. However I still had to be sure that I had the main expected cast of characters in the story.
So what is the main expected cast of characters in any story?
I think there is a basic number of characters you cannot really go below: three or four, maybe. There is no upper limit on characters, and there are many archetypes, but the roles of these basic three or four characters needs to be evident in any story. They are:
The sidekick (George, I thought I would continue his role as sidekick as I thought readers would like to hear more about him.)
The romance character (that’s the one who everyone wants to love/save – and in this case it is Henry, the Dragon. I thought he better go on through in the series too (!) as definitely everybody would want to hear more about him – especially as he is the one that Ellie wants to be with forever).
The antagonist (Oswald has always been the major villain of the series, but he needed his own sidekick and supporters).
Why do you think Oswald is a good antagonist? Good enough to last throughout the series?
Well, I think that the strength of a story lies in how much it challenges the protagonist, and therefore any villain who can challenge a dragon has to be more powerful than a dragon! There are very few things that are more powerful than dragons except perhaps bigger dragons. This is why I believe that Oswald is a good antagonist for the series. I also think it is important to make sure that the forces of evil that are challenging the protagonist are always much stronger and more in number. This meant that in book two I needed Oswald to recruit some villains to work with him. When the magic awoke all of the mythological creatures in Snowdonia this gave me a lot of range to decide which ones would work for Oswald and which ones would work against him.
Aha! I get it. Clever thinking!
Mythological characters could work for good or evil, and it was fun deciding which side each creature would join – particularly when it came to the giants!
Are there giants in Here be Witches?
Well, you will have to read the story, but there is a clue in the dedication …
To IDRIS GAWR, Stargazer, Overlord and Giant of Cadair Idris
In the land of Merioneth in the parish of Dolgelly in the commote of Talybont is a mount or peak or large high hill that is called Cadair Idris. And on the highest crown of this mountain is a bed-shaped form, great in length and width, built of slabs with stones fixed thereon. And this is called The Bed of Idris. And it is said that of whoever lies and sleeps upon that bed, from sunset until sunrise, one of two things will happen to him: either he will be a hero or poet or bard of the best kind, or descend from that Great Mountain entirely demented.
From The Giants of Wales and Their Dwellings
Sion Dafydd Rhys, ca. 1600
So interesting! Thanks Sarah for sharing that and we will carry on with the Q and A session in your next blog post.
We read more from Sarah in her next upcoming post – which looks at setting and dilemmas in sequels and how to make them fresh and enticing.