Writing That Second Novel

When you think your manuscript would never get published, writing a second book is the furthest thing from your mind. Why would you when no one is interested to publish your first book?

Of course, the advice I heard from well-established authors was the opposite of that. Because while you are still waiting for that coveted call from the publisher about the green light for your book, you are supposed to keep writing – a lot.

So you can understand my hesitation about plotting The Girl Between Light and Dark when book one, The Girl Between Two Worlds, wasn’t even out yet. This was years ago, before the first book was even picked up by Anvil Publishing. While plotting my second book, I kept doubting myself. Why plot the second book when you don’t even know if the first book was going to be good enough to pique the interest of the readers?

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I, however, persisted. Because what else was I going to do? Silence the characters in my head who were screaming to be placed back on the page? So write it I did, but the process wasn’t filled with early mornings of furious typing followed by a visit to the café, chinwagging with other authors. The reality was far from that — so very far from that. In this post, I’ll tell you the two reasons why it took so long to finish the second book and what I did to overcome the struggle.

Problem #1: I didn’t know what to do with my characters

I plotted the second book while we were on Christmas holiday with my husband’s family in Tasmania. I scribbled and scribbled in my notebook, thinking it was all going to come out smoothly. It did, initially. I closed that notebook and said to myself ‘well, that was easy’. I wrote exactly what was going to happen each chapter and I thought that was that. But, of course, it didn’t happen that way. Although I did use some of the plot points I wrote down, most of it didn’t make it to the book. Why? Simply because they were derivative and, to be honest, really contrived. I was so disappointed when I finally sat down on my laptop and started writing the book. There were so many moments when I just stared at the page and thought ‘what now?’.

Solution:

I had to flesh the new characters out before I could proceed with the second book. I had to know what their motivations were, why they were there, what their purpose was in relation to the main character. Why is the villain bad? What happened for her to be such a pain in the ass? Several characters from books that I’ve read and TV shows I watched inspired me with my own book. Once I figured out the other characters, it was easier to know how they would interact with each other. Still, there were moments when I hesitated giving some of the ‘good’ characters a darker side because I just wanted everyone to be friends. Why can’t they all just get along? But they can’t. It wouldn’t be good reading if everyone was so polite.

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Problem #2: I had no time

When you’re juggling a freelancing job in a place where you have no family to help you, it gets hard. Really hard. Not only was I working, I was also taking care of my family and organising my daughter’s schedule and school requirements. Then there’s the seemingly endless number of chores that doesn’t die down even when there’s two of you trying to finish them. I was looking for the time to sneak writing my novel so I could finish it. I wished I could go away to some secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere (one that preferably didn’t have a serial killer nearby) and do nothing else but write. Fat chance of that happening.

Solution: Regular small chunks of time

I thought that after publishing The Girl Between Two Worlds I would have more time for my other projects. I had it in my head that because I was a published author I would magically just prioritise writing novels more than anything else. What a delusional thought that was. I don’t get an extra hour in the day just because I published my first book. I had to go back to the way I used to do it – 30 minutes of consistent writing a day. Whatever free time I got after that was a bonus. I used my desk, my decade-old computer and what little time I could find to make it to the finish line. I know now that this will never change. My life will always be a juggle of so many things. I just need to make sure I make time for writing.

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That is why when a reader contacts me through social media or private messages to tell me how much they enjoy the book, I light up like a Christmas tree. It keeps me writing. It pushes me out of that funk and encourages me to find that 30 minutes of my time to write.

And when you do the same thing to other authors like me, it has the same effect. It’s like a shot of espresso in the morning when you’ve had the least sleep. So please keep the encouragements coming.

If you want to get a copy of my eBook on writing, Writing My Way, just add your name to the link here. You will also get the first chapters of The Girl Between Two Worlds!

Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is set for release this year.

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