Now that I am finished one project and about to wrap up a short story (my first in years - so that's a pretty good achievement) I am looking forward at my next novel. Of course, it's going to be a continuation of my series because I am running on creative steam from the first book, but I am also curious to see how my writing evolves now that I know the characters pretty well.
Knowing the characters is only part of the battle with a sequel. The goal is to throw so much stuff at these characters that they are forced to evolve beyond what they thought was possible. Look at Star Wars Episode V. Luke is forced to travel to meet Yoda and discovers that it's nearly impossible to become a Jedi. He can't harness the force easily enough, and he's ready to give up. Add to that the revelation that his greatest enemy outs himself as Luke's own father, then you have your characters dealing with such drama that they have no choice but to evolve with the story.
I think I have this kind of material for my sequel to Macyntire & Hough. For those who haven't read the book yet, a quick intro of my characters.
Tadin is a ghost who has been dead since the 1970's.
Shelley is a living human who shares an apartment and also a business with Tadin.
Maris is Tadin and Shelley's paranormal investigator friend.
There you have it. My core characters. Now I need to shake their lives up enough to get them moving. I've been meditating on the story for the second book and it's going to be much more emotional than the first time around. I'm very excited, and I'm doing research.
What kind of research?
Nostalgia is a useful tool to a writer because it allows us to revisit stories or times of our lives that were creatively empowering. I always think back to Star Wars and Harry Potter and can almost feel the electricity in the air from back then. The sense of excitement that these stories evoked within me was palpable and something that will always stay with me for the rest of my life. If you can look at that kind of nostalgia in your own life and harness the feeling that it brings to you, then you can use that feeling in your own work. What did you love about those stories? What made them connect on a deeper level with you?
As I move forward I am going to tap into this energy more and more to get my characters to the emotional state that they need to be. If you're also working on a piece of writing, give this technique of nostalgic research a try. It doesn't have to be a story. It can be music, television, or even memories of a trip. Fuel your creative fire and write!