Book 1 is Finished, Now What Do I Write About?


(Or: “The one where I steal a question from Ken Levine’s blog and turn it into boffo content on my web site.”)

Every Friday, Ken Levine answers “Friday Questions“, and one jumped out at me. Here is the question, followed by his answer:

(Q:) Which is more challenging as a showrunner: writing a pilot episode for a show, or writing episode 2?

(A:) Episode 2. You have to accomplish two things. You have to re-tell the pilot for all the viewers tuning in for the first time, and for those who did watch the pilot you have to give them enough of a new story to hold their interest.

Also, you generally have months to craft a pilot. You can’t devote that kind of time and effort to episode 2 because you also have episodes 3-13 to worry about.

I’m not in the TV biz, but I’m finding that the above Q&A applies to writing a book series. Crossed Out: An Ana Lode Thriller (available now!) is the first book of an open-ended series (in that I don’t have a set number of volumes in mind, unlike a planned trilogy), and to that end, there will be a Book Two.

I started brainstorming Book Two, and went from “I only have a working title” to “it’s time to start filling in a beat sheet” in about ten minutes. While that is fun and exciting, the above question raises a valid consideration: How much of Book Two should serve as “Previously, On Ana Lode…”?

As it stands in the pre-planning (read: spitballing) phase, there will be references to Book One in passing, but the trick will be to make it reasonably easy to follow without the benefit of reading the first book. For example, it’s not necessary to watch James Bond movies in order, as it becomes pretty clear who he is and what the stakes are early on in the film. (Apples and Oranges, I know, but it fits.)

Anyway, I defer to you, the reading public: How much of a refresher do you need from book to book in a series? Comments are open. (Moderated, but open.)

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  1. I just finished Ana Lode last night and really enjoyed it. Other than explaining some of the characters and how they got to their “starting points” for book two, it shouldn’t take too much.

    Editing will be the issue, since you’ll get 1/4 of the way in and remember a fact needed from the first book, an rather than just cram it in at that point, the best way is to have it earlier so that it is already common knowledge.

    Good luck, and hurry up with book two!

  2. Are you not going to continue with more stories of Diane Penbrook I would love to read more about her Career as a police officer.

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