That Fresh Breath of Freedom – The Middle Novel, Part Two

Most trilogies have what’s called “an arc” – that sweep from beginning to end in which the hero ventures forth, learns not to stab himself in the eye with a sword, meets the wizened sorceress and together they go and dunk the big bad in a vat of lava. In that scenario, book one has the evolution from worthless chump to nasty customer via mentoring sorceress, and book three is all about that lava.

But book two? Where does that fit in?

You might find that question scary, but think about it for a second. There’s no real expectations for book two. It doesn’t need to wrap everything up, it doesn’t need to spend time introducing the world. Instead, you can get right to the action, and that action can be whatever you want it to be.

Here are a few things that I found fun about writing the second book in the trilogy:

  1. Its own tale from beginning to end: In Dark Ice, that freedom let me take the Wild Nines to a new place, with new characters and conflicts that stretched the characters in ways entirely different than the first book. I was able to make a self-contained story that nonetheless drives the overall plot forward.
  2. Characters mature: This one surprised me. If you’re an outliner, you’ll probably have some idea of where you want your characters to wind up by the end of the trilogy. However, in book two, some of their reactions, their growth, and the relationships that formed weren’t in the initial plot. In the first book you’re getting to know your cast. In the second, they become your friends.
  3. The writing gets better: Obviously, this is subjective, but as with most things, the more you write, the better you’ll get. The same thing happened here – writing Dark Ice was a smoother process than Wild Nines, in part because I became more proficient. You’ll notice it as you string novels together – some might be harder as books, but your ability to put together a sentence, to tie in an emotion without a strong adverb, to end a chapter on the right note to have the reader turning the page instead of putting the book down, that’ll grow. You’ll notice.

Overall, I enjoyed writing Dark Ice more than Wild Nines. Familiarity with the tools (Scrivener, etc.), more comfort with the plot of the trilogy, and just the confidence that comes with completing a novel helped make the second one more fun.

I’m wrapping up the third book over the next couple of weeks, set for release in March. As that nears, I’ll drop in another pair of posts about how it feels to complete a trilogy and look towards new projects.

For now, if you’re curious about Dark Ice, you can check it out here:

 

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