Dead Men are the Poorest of All Rambled musings of an independent author

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On the Struggle of Sequels

Today I completed Volume Two’s manuscript and shipped it to my editor.  Completed, of course, does not mean completed.  As with any project in draft stage, the foundation has been erected and built, with final polish looming nearby to prevent proper sleep.

Writing the sequel to Dead Men Tell No Lies involved fourteen calendar months of effort, including a miserable five month stint of beat-your-head-against-the-desk writer’s block.  However, the most consistently challenging task throughout the project was maintaining and augmenting the lore carried over from Volume One.

For fantasy readers, lore represents a significant draw.  When I read fantasy novels, I adore being immersed–and not just immersed in the mythology of the lands and people.  The mythology created around characters is key.  Pirates must continue to speak and act like pirates.  Priestesses must continue to their (ig)noble quest to rid the world of profane forces.

World’s Enough Cycle involves two main characters hailing from highly divergent worlds, with highly divergent goals.  The overarching story weaves these two characters together, but there is little to bind them and keeping their separate mythologies intact took more effort than I realized.  I cannot begin to fathom how George R. R. Martin keeps so many PoV characters (in his A Song of Ice and Fire series) internally cohesive.  Just thinking about it gives me a headache (quick, differentiate the voices of Cersei vs. Catelyn vs. Brienne vs. Arya!).

Lore is the double-edged sword of fantasy epics.  With each book, you build an increasingly complex and fleshed out world, but you also corral yourself with the thousands of tiny decisions made along the way: minor characters you wish lived through a battle; philosophical leanings of a particular villain; or even just the directional winds across a particular body of water.

In short, writing sequels can be exhausting.  I look forward to more tribulations when I start Volume Three.


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