Writing a Sequel
Writing a sequel is … an interesting mix of emotions. From a reader’s perspective, we always thought it was easier. You don’t need to come up with new main characters! The world has already been built in the first book! You already did a ton of historical research! Half the work is done! But when we actually sat down to get started on These Ruthless Deeds, we immediately felt stifled and annoyed with the past versions of ourselves who had started this series six years ago. We had a different set of priorities back then. We had locked ourselves into a set of characters, who were already on particular tracks. We were stuck with a set of rules that we couldn’t turn around and break. We worried that we’d used up all the good plot lines, powers, enemies, jokes, locations and twists in the first book and would find ourselves torn about what to do in the second. And seeing how the tiniest decisions in the first book, altered the direction of the second, we were super indecisive because we didn’t want to regret locking ourselves into something horrible for the third book. We lost count of the number of times we wished we had simply written a standalone, so we could just get a nice, blank slate again.
But after the initial panic, and with help from our great editorial team at Swoon, we slowly started to remember why we had decided this world needed three books and not one. We stopped thinking about the things we couldn’t do because our past selves were different writers and we started thinking about the things we hadn’t gotten the chance to do with what we’ve learned since then. We thought about all the powers that we never thought of for the first book. We realized all sorts of unexpected uses for the existing powers. We noticed how narrow our world-view was. We figured out new ways to use some of our favorite cut scenes. We remembered some of our favorite jokes and one-liners that we couldn’t find a place for. And most of all, we thought about the moments we still wanted our characters to have. All the things they needed to go through.
More than anything, writing a sequel is a balancing act, where you feel pressure come from directions you hadn’t even considered. You’re at once your own greatest fan and your harshest critic. You want to capture the magic from the first book, while going somewhere new. But at the same time, you are constantly second-guessing yourself, wondering if you’re getting stale and repetitive, or too weird and different. Even though we’re finished, we’re still not quite sure if we’ve cracked the secret formula for writing a perfect sequel, but we do think the most important part is to accept that we, as writers, are growing along with the characters, and we all have to go somewhere new and uncomfortable.
So here’s to book three. Where we are already cursing our past selves. But maybe slightly less than last time. We doubt this process will ever get easier, but hopefully we will learn some new tricks each time.
These Ruthless Deeds
Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
(These Vicious Masks #2)
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…
Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.
Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.
Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.
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