Now that I’ve published my debut novel, ‘Slur’ and my short story book, ‘Crime, Conflict and Consequences’ I’m pressing ahead with my second novel. I originally intended the second novel to be a disturbing psychological thriller called ‘Bad Brother and I’. Having already written about 10,000 words of this book, mostly in outline form but with the opening and concluding chapters drafted, it seemed the logical next step. In fact, I had also published the blurb for ‘Bad Brother and I’ in the back of ‘Slur’.
Then something happened.
As I was writing ‘Slur’ I thought of a great idea for a sequel. I had grown attached to one of my main characters in ‘Slur’, called Rita, and through my debut novel I had alluded to the fact that she had a rather colourful home life with a father who was a petty criminal and a sister who hung about with some dubious characters. Rita is feisty, foul mouthed and brash but she’s also loyal and has a strong sense of right and wrong as a result of her grandparents’ influence when she was a child. Therefore I thought it would be interesting to explore her character further and place her in an extremely challenging situation.
I decided that I would push on with ‘Bad Brother and I’ once I had published my short story book, and then write the sequel to ‘Slur’. My reasoning behind this was that I was much further forward with ‘Bad Brother and I’ than with any of the other novels I had planned. However, whilst I was getting ‘Slur’ ready for publication, additional ideas for the sequel were forming in my mind. I already had the plot roughly sketched and I was adding notes to it daily.
I was so excited about the idea for the sequel that I also typed up the opening chapter in draft form. Then, one morning I woke up at 5 am after a dream and I had the whole of the ending in my head. I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper. Fortunately, I have a notepad at my bedside because of my overactive imagination (these ideas always seem to come to me in the middle of the night – sod’s law!)
The following day I typed up the ending in draft from my handwritten notes and I could see the novel starting to take shape. I knew then that I didn’t want to put it off until I had written ‘Bad Brother and I’. After all, I was still immersed in the world that I had created and the characters were fresh in my mind so I decided to go for it. I changed the blurb in the back of ‘Slur’ and started work on the sequel as soon as I had launched the short story book.
I am now four chapters and 10,000 words in and I’m so glad I made this decision. There is no way I could have focused on ‘Bad Brother and I’ when all my enthusiasm was for the sequel. I’m really enjoying working on this book although it may have to take a back seat for a couple of weeks as I’m currently organising a couple of client jobs.
Although I was further forward with ‘Bad Brother and I’ than with the sequel to ‘Slur’, I actually think that this book will flow more quickly because I’m full of enthusiasm for it. There’s another advantage in writing this book next, and that is the fact that it is similar in type to ‘Slur’. Therefore, I can target them to the same readership.
My husband actually came up with an idea for a third book in the series. At first I wasn’t sure if it could be developed into a full-length novel as it was just the bare bones of an idea. However, the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me and I began fleshing out the plot and adding detail. It is now definitely workable as a novel and, as a result, ‘Slur’ has become the first part in a trilogy.
So I think my Bad Brother will have to wait a while longer before he gets his turn in the limelight. Sorry Bad Brother but my female characters are just too dominant. I will get back to it one day though and I think that once I’ve taken the characters from ‘Slur’ as far as I can, I’ll be ready to work with a new set of characters and give them my undivided attention.
Authors, have you ever had a writing dilemma that has caused you to make a complete change in your writing plans? Or, perhaps you’ve had a character who has taken on a life of his or her own. I’d love to hear your comments on this.
10 thoughts on “A Change of Plan”
How lovely and refreshing to hear about this change of plan. I think you did the right thing. You followed your passion and enthusiasm, and that can only be good. Our instincts always know what is best for us and drive us to make the right choice. That doesn’t mean that “Bad Brother and I” won’t get its chance, it only means that it will have to wait until the time is right.
As an author, I had a huge dilemma last year when I felt compelled to experiment with non-fiction, after writing fiction for a couple of years. I tried it, I wrote a dessert cookery book, and I had loads of fun doing it. And now I decided to go back to writing fiction again. But that is not because I think I made a mistake, but because I miss my characters and I want to tell another story. I am sure, though, that sooner or later I will want to write more cookery books, but I will let my instincts guide me and tell me when the time is right for that 😉
Thanks for your feedback Martina. It was difficult for me to make the decision because I normally work quite systematically but as independents I think we have to learn to try different things and see what works best for us. I loved your cookery book and I’m looking forward to trying your fiction when the book I downloaded reaches the top of my TBR list. 🙂
Absolutely! I’ve been 20K words in several times when something– sometimes it’s a dream– causes me to abandon that idea and start something new. You have to go where your muse takes you. Often times the new book is the right one at that time. When it pours out of you I believe it was meant to be written, meant to be shared with the world. IMHO, you did the right thing. And even if you never return to Brother time wasn’t wasted. Anytime we write we’re honing our craft, regardless of where we are in our careers, and you can always steal pieces from it for other projects. Also, if you do go back to it all new ideas will emerge, making it stronger than if you kept plugging along. Good luck with ‘Slur’!
Sue, thanks for visiting my blog. It’s interesting what you say about dreams because I have lots of ideas after I’ve been dreaming. Maybe my subconscious is pointing me in the right direction. Thanks also for your words of wisdom. It’s nice to get that reassurance from an experienced crime writer. 🙂
I quit writing CONCEALMENT for 6 months and started another project, because I was finding it so difficult and painful to write. But then I was drawn back into it and never looked back. The other project will be reincarnated at some point in the future I’m sure!
Thanks for popping over to my blog Rose. I’m glad you got there in the end with CONCEALMENT and am looking forward to reading it once it goes on sale. The advantage with having a few projects on the go is that you don’t have to start from scratch when you move onto your next novel. 🙂
More than once. This time last year I’d written about 20K words of a Christmas novella, then realised I just wasn’t into it. I was re-writing a whole novel I wrote nearly 20 years ago, thinking I could update it (more or less complete re-write!) for the 2014 Christmas market. I got the idea for Round and Round out of nowhere and wrote that instead. I’m glad I did; I kept a close eye on the Christmas books last year and saw that this market is now so saturated that more than half of them don’t sell much anyway. Then last month I did a whole plan and the first chapter for a light summer novella, as Round and Round was so well received, but the same happened. I was on chapter two and suddenly thought, my heart isn’t in this. I’ve started the third of my history-in-the-modern day novels instead. I got partially novels written from years ago, too.
Thanks for your feedback Terry. You make an interesting point about marketing and I think that’s just as important as having the enthusiasm for what you are writing. I will go back to “Bad Brother and I” eventually but it’s a bit early in my writing career to take a chance on a disturbing psychological thriller so I’m going with the flow at the moment.
You’ve done absolutely the right thing Heather – you must write what you have the passion for as your writing will be better for it. Also there is nothing better than writing with that like of enthusiasm in you – it’s just the best thing and the book will be written before you know it. Writing is never work when you get to do it like that 🙂 I wish you all the best with it and look forward to hearing when it is coming out.
Thanks for your comment Georgia. I’m now 65,000 words in and it has flowed smoothly for the main part. I’m glad I made the decision. I think that by the time I’ve written the trilogy I’ll be well ready for a change and be eager to work with some new characters. 🙂