I wrote my first novel convinced it would be a best seller. Because of my over confidence, I wrote it's sequel and was about to write the third in the series. Gratefully, my progress was halted by a random writing assignment my friend and I had assigned to each other to spark our creativity.
This little excersise turned out to be the first chapter in my book Fractured Light. I knew the second I wrote it I had something. So I set aside my first two novels and continued writing FL. This time, however, I was careful to tie up loose ends so it could stand alone, but left a hint of conflict just in case. As soon as I was finished, I began another novel, which was just picked up (more to come on this later).
What's interesting is my publisher recently looked at my first novel for possible publication. Their assessment of it was spot on. It was no where near ready for publication. The plot and characters needed some major work. Years ago I would never have agreed, but looking at it now I'm embarrassed I wrote something so messy. I hope to return to it one day soon because I really think it has potential, but until then I'll work on current projects.
Do I regret writing those first two novels?
Not at all. What I learned was invaluable. Sometimes you have to write crap so you can recognzie when you've written something good.
Literary agent Nathan Bransford wrote an interesting article about writing sequels. He said:
"Sometimes authors get so connected to a world
they've created they develop symptoms of a disease I've previously
diagnosed as acute sequelitis.
is characterized by an aversion to starting fresh with a completely new
project even after being unable to place the first book in a series.
Authors suffering from acute sequelitis then write a sequel, then the third in a trilogy, and pretty soon have
six or ten or a dozen interconnected books, the fourth of which might
actually be publishable... if it didn't need the three before it in
order to make sense.
If, however, your goal is to be published, writing a sequel to an
unpublished, self-published, or under-published book is probably not
your best strategy. Placing a book these days is really really hard.
Placing a sequel to an un/self/under-published novel is virtually
impossible, no matter how good it is.
Unless, of course, the
sequel can stand on its own. And I don't mean squint your eyes, fudge
some plot lines, and nudge nudge sure thing it can stand alone. I mean it
can completely and utterly stand alone and you can credibly pitch it as
the first book in a possible series. In that case, well, just pitch it as the first book in a possible series and don't mention the one in the drawer. "
How many of you have come down with a case of acute sequelitis?