Like a frightened animal, the idea for my novel's sequel had been lurking in the tall grasses, creeping around me but careful to remain just out of sight. Each time I thought I glimpsed it, the bushes shook and the flash of movement disappeared again. I sat patiently as I crouched down and extended a treat in my hand, careful not to make eye contact and frighten it. Little by little it emerged, first taking just a nibble of my bait, finally curling up at my feet. There it was when I awoke yesterday morning... the entire plot to my next novel laid out in all it's glory before me.
The idea to the sequel came when I was introduced to my new editor. "Is this book a standalone or part of a series?" Good question. I had written it as a standalone, but there was a character in this novel I thought might make a great protagonist in another book. After running the general idea past her, she agreed I should look into it. Not a problem, I thought as I kicked back ready to whip out another novel. Wrong. The plot turned out to be harder to come up with than I anticipated.
For each book that I have written, it started as a dream. Literally. I woke up feeling like I had just watched clips of a movie. As long as an alarm or my naughty cat doesn't wake me, I tend to remember my vivid and colorful dreams. If something startles me awake, they dissipate before I can grasp them. When the idea for my first book came to me, I woke up and jotted down the scene I saw in my head. It didn't take long to build a book around it, developing the characters that had introduced themselves to me while I slept. The books wrote themselves, the stories just unfolded as I followed along furiously writing down everything I saw happening. Before I knew it the ugly rough draft of a novel was done. Then another. And another. This time, I was trying to create characters I hadn't yet dreamed about. It was proving difficult.
I spent hours each day for a week running different plots through my mind, each one falling flat on it's face with some plot hole or the realization it was just plain terrible. My editor told me not to worry, don't force it. If this book is a standalone that is just fine with them. But I really did feel like I wanted to tell this other character's story. I felt like he deserved his own book. However, the harder I tried, the farther it seemed I got from a great plot.
Then I awoke yesterday. Like I do every morning, I woke up but left my eyes closed for a minute while I recalled my dreams. Flashes of scenes kept rolling like movie trailers in my mind as my dog, Gerdie, snuggled deeper into my arms. I saw him, my new hero, and then I saw her... the woman of his dreams. I saw the woman of his dreams in my dream... go figure. It was only a brief interaction between the two, the words couldn't be made out, but when I opened my eyes I knew who she was. I knew where they were going and by golly, I had the rough plot to my novel sorted out. It just flashed through my mind one exciting scene after another. My dog got a kiss on the nose and my editor got an email straight away with the generalized plot. The details aren't worked out yet, but the "soul" of my book is now alive and well. I didn't want to spend too much energy on it unless she thought it was a good story. I got her email hours later... go for it! She loves the idea. (Insert squealing here.)
With renewed excitement for my story I now embark on the next steps of my writing process. My fingers are tingling just waiting to let the new characters develop and the new story unfold. With November being National Novel Writing Month I have decided to take on this novel and try to complete the rough draft before December 1. My editor is looking for 50,000-65,000 words for my completed novel. With any luck, a little dedication, and a lot of grit I hope to have it ready for editing one month from today. Stay tuned for updates on my writing progress and wish me luck! You can also send my husband your condolences since I am about to disappear into my own mind for the next thirty days. Sorry honey, my characters are calling.
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