The first draft felt pretty good. The second draft was something I survived. The beta comments told me I had a long way to go in revising the sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin.
As I struggle through my third draft, I realize what’s been plaguing this book. The fear of the sequel. It wrapped around my fingers and directed them across the keyboard.
I now have readers and they have expectations. I can’t help fretting that they will hate this character arc or that plot direction. That I will ruin the characters in their eyes. I’ve worried that I will do something wrong and it’s stopped by from doing things right.
It makes me doubt myself. It makes me question every choice I make. And every time I realize a premise was wrong, I see the ripple effect. Entire scenes are gone. New chapters are being written. A scene at the end is now happening on page 100.
I’m 5 weeks in and it feels like a clusterf***k.
Every day, I’m wrestling with my inner demons. I had a few days of blessed clarity. I made some major changes last week.
Now, as I am at page 400, I think I know what the problem is in the first 250 pages. Yes, the first 250 pages. The first half of the novel. Too many show don’t tell scenes. That gem is courtesy of a discussion with my crit partner. I need more exposition. I need more summary to move things along.
Even as I change things, I constantly ask myself is this truly better? Is this as good as the first novel? Will it ever get there? There’s so much pressure to top the first and so much fear that I can’t. That I will fail my characters and my readers. It’s a different kind of fear. The fear of the sequel. It alternately propels me forward and paralyzes me.
Anyone else write series? How do you deal with the fear of the sequel?