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Death and Sex

March 22, 2010

Catchy title, eh?  This week, we’re blogging about the challenges we face in wrapping up book one and starting the second in a series. The timing is apropos for me because I am working on my second book, The Hunt, right now. Notice I said working on and not writing.

So far, my biggest challenge has been keeping details and characters straight. I decided this week, before I attempt to write past chapter seven, I’ll make some index cards.  I’ve read the technique works for some writers, and I usually do well when I make lists to keep track of details.

Obviously, the basics for the main characters in book one are set in stone now. I know them well, know what they’d say, and how they’d react to almost any given situation.  But in the second book, I’m switching things up. I have five male and two female points of view (POVs), hence the seven chapters done so far. I thought it would behoove me to flesh out each new voice first before moving on in my writing. And that means making them real. Give them pasts, give them flaws, heck—give them an accent!  Anything to make them come to life and leap off the pages.

If I create believable people now, there should be less to correct in later chapters, right?  That’s my hope.  One of the biggest challenges writers face is being consistent with voice and dialogue for each character throughout an entire book. So what happens when it’s a series, and you’ve got new people entering the scene and others dying off?

Ask any artist: perfection is in the details of any piece. Sure, in the end, there will be flaws—that’s the case whenever you create. But overall, your art should flow and be consistent within your vision.

What do you do when you have a first book heavy on blood, sex, and action?  Amp up the death count and keep the sex hot (at least that’s what I plan to do). Oh, and master multiple POVs in a present tense story.

As my friends (and fellow wicked writers have pointed out)—I have unshakable confidence in myself in most things. That confidence was tested last week when I started to doubt whether I could pull off seven POVs in The Hunt.  My biggest challenge in creating the second book will be mastering head-hopping in each chapter and doing it well.

I know the story I want to write; it’s crystal clear in my head. Will I have the skill to weave all the elements to tell the tale as I envision it? Time will tell and I’m excited to give it a shot. Sure, it’ll be hard. Sure, I might mess up.

But this isn’t brain surgery we’re talking about. Nor is it a first encounter with a new love. The death and sex I write about will wait for me to prefect them, as best I can, before being revealed to the audience. The worst that can happen is a reader will close the book and put it down—and I plan to work damn hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. helena gardella permalink
    March 22, 2010 7:27 am

    Great idea with the index cards. I don’t usually like stories with too many points of view, but I am enjoying yours immensely. I can’t imagine anyone picking up your book and putting it down.

    Have fun getting the “accents” right! You can do it. I have confidence in you.

    • March 22, 2010 7:56 am

      Thanks, Helena! You rock, chiquita! I’ve had good feedback from the 45-65 people who’ve read the opening. The hardest people to please so far have been Supriya and my husband.

      Both want more “omph” in the first chapter to draw the reader in. It’s harder than I thought to trickle the first book’s pertinent info in while setting the stage for the second book and make the plot instantly engaging. Prologue, no prologue, dream sequence, flash back or immediate dead body?

      I went with a short two-paragraph, type of flashback to Vivian’s past–but of course I may wind up re-working that chapter a dozen more times ’til I can get it to sing like the first one in Vampire Vacation.

      Thanks for coming along on the journey with me, Helena. It’s having readers like you, who give me their opinions, that really make the difference in the final product.

    • March 22, 2010 2:17 pm

      Index cards ROCK! It’s how I plan my entire day. Or maybe you could use Anne Rice’s method and write on your ideas and plans on the walls.

      • March 22, 2010 2:48 pm

        She wrote on her walls? Yikes. If you knew the amount of hours I’ve put into my house you know I’d probably have a fit and start searching for my Mr.Clean magic eraser!

  2. March 22, 2010 2:13 pm

    I don’t know, C.J., sometimes it feels like psychic brain surgery.

  3. Michelle permalink
    March 22, 2010 2:40 pm

    I’m thinking you’re doing a great job of it so far. I was thinking each chapter from a different point of view would have a lot of repetition in it, but I like that you’re moving the story forward rather than showing the same scene from each person’s POV. And I think the index card thing is necessary, with all the people you have coming and going (or will have), you will need to be consistent through the books with the ones that are constants… You don’t want someone who is a “regular” to have a different color eyes in book one than they have in book two.
    I enjoy these blogs though I don’t always comment on them, it’s nice getting to know the type of talent that exists in this world!

    • March 22, 2010 2:47 pm

      Thanks Michelle, appreciate the comment! And since you’re one of my beta readers I’m glad to see the POVs are working so far 😉

      I used to laugh when an author changed the age of a heroine from book two to three or someone’s eye color. I’d think, “Come on, how do you not know when you wrote it?” Now I know it’s just too many facts to keep straight!

  4. Harley D. Palmer permalink*
    March 22, 2010 9:02 pm

    I’m sure you can do it CJ. I have multiple POV’s in my novel too, but I write in the past tense. It’s easier for me that way – so I applaud you writing in the present tense! I tried it once and it did not come out pretty! Keep up the great work!

    • March 23, 2010 9:12 am

      I could say the same about when I wrote in past tense! It took me a while to get all my passives out and it was only a 500 word flash fiction piece. I was debating on making the fourth book in the series, the one where I tell Viv and Rafe’s past, to be past tense. Hopefully by then I’ll have learned enough to pull it off. 😉

  5. Barbara Ellison permalink
    March 23, 2010 8:53 am

    The index card profiling each character is a great idea. I wrote all the characters names on the inside front cover of VV Inn. I was having a hard time remembering who belonged to who and who was a vampire etc. I can’t even imagine writing about dozens of different charaters.
    I love this blog and the diverse opinions of each of you Wicked Writers. I do read it everyday and will try and comment more.

    • March 23, 2010 9:10 am

      I had no idea you did that with the names, wow! I’m planning a glossary of terms and characters for the book when it comes out in print… and a map, a contributor page, an acknowledgement page, a dedication page, a “teaser” page (you know the type in the very front of the book to give the reader a taste), and at the end an excerpted chapter of The Hunt.

      Hey, was it one of your relatives, Debbie Ellison, that wrote to me on the fanpage the other day and said they were writing a book? If yes, then please tell her I wish her the best! She should stop by here and say hello when she gets a chance. We’re always open to helping out new writers (and you never know, she may get a tip that saves her some time down the line).

      Thanks again Barbara, it’s always good to see you!

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