THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF WRITING A TRILOGY
by Anna Staniszewski
I used to think that writing the first book in a series would be the easiest since the premise and the characters are still fresh and exciting. But now that I’m almost finished writing/publishing my second trilogy (in fact, I’m revising the third Dirt Diary book at the moment) I’ve learned that writing the second book is the most fun for me. The experience is like reuniting with an old friend. It might feel a little stiff at first, but once I hang out with the characters for a day or two, it’s like no time has passed.
Since I already know the world of the story and its inhabitants, I can play around and see what else I can do with them, what other misadventures I can set into motion. Often, this comes from the characters’ flaws, ones that might have been present in the first book but were more in the background. Now it’s time to dig deeper and figure out how those other quirks and flaws might lead to conflict and action.
If you know that the series is going to have three books, the second book also gives you the luxury of being able to explore new threads without needing to completely wrap everything up. Of course, you want the second book to have a satisfying arc so that readers don’t feel frustrated or cheated, but knowing that you still have one more book left in the series means that the second book can leave certain things open.
Perhaps that’s why I find third books the most challenging; everything needs to feel even bigger and more exciting than in the other two books, and there are also lots of threads to wrap up in a satisfying way. Plus, you need to show how the character has continued to change and grow from the beginning of the series. We want to feel like we’ve lived through something with the character and evolved along with her. No pressure, right? Honestly, getting it right can often feel like pulling teeth and having your teeth pulled at the same.
Do I enjoy the process of writing a trilogy? Absolutely. It’s amazing that one tiny idea--e.g. a story I heard on NPR about a girl cleaning houses with her mom--can lead to multiple books, and I love getting to explore the characters by putting them into different scenarios. But I’ve also gotten a little smarter about how I plan out a series. Since I know that third books are the most difficult for me, my plan for my newest trilogy is to keep that in mind while I’m writing the first two installments so that by the time I’m ready to write the last one, maybe it won’t be so painful.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some teeth to pull...
Bio: Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband and their crazy dog. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the Dirt Diary series. Her newest book, The Prank List, releases on July 1st from Sourcebooks. You can visit Anna at www.annastan.com.
♥ GIVEAWAY! ♥
Anna has generously agreed to send a free, signed and dedicated copy of THE PRANK LIST to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below!