This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
This month, author Sophia Tobin and Senior Commissioning Editor at Simon & Schuster, Clare Hey, talk about the writing of a second novel during the build up to the launch of the first.
Sophia: As The Silversmith’s Wife hovers in the background, waiting to be launched on the world, I’m working on my next book. So while I’m spending quite a lot of time writing and talking about my first book, I’m also getting into the world of the second.
When I wrote The Silversmith’s Wife, I didn’t really have a method, and I also didn’t mention it to people much. I can’t get away with that now. Friends make sweet-natured, careful enquiries about it, as though discussing the health of a small toddler. ‘Coming along OK?’ they say. Family members gently query word count whilst offering biscuits.
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However, so far, my book and I are getting on just fine. The poor little mite doesn’t have a name yet, but it seems robust and likes to wander around pushing things over and asking questions. But I recently wondered whether my method of writing should be different this time.
I began The Silversmith’s Wife by writing 40,000 words without reading any of them back. I would soothe myself by thinking of it as organic, a lovely word which made me feel better about not really knowing what I was doing. The truth was, I really loved it: writing with no pressure, and writing just what I wanted. Much later, it took a lot of carving up to get it into shape, and I wondered whether I’d made a mistake being so free at the beginning.
Recent work on The Silversmith’s Wife has involved efficiency: looking at technical details and proofing. So I started the second book in that mind-set, with a beady-eyed determination to plot everything out and be efficient. You know the deal: flow charts, highlighters, the whole I’m-going-back-to-school-and-I’ve-got-a-new-fountain- pen thing. It was in this manner that I set aside my earlier notes, and wrote 10,000 words.
They were terrible.
After hitting delete (well, pasting it into a word document entitled: ‘Never Read This Again’) I decided to try the freer style I used before, with the exception that I’m paying a lot more attention to structure than I did before. There is also the added bonus that I know the ending this time. Since I’ve started doing this, the words have been flowing more. The second book is set during summer in a coastal town, and I feel like I’m shielding my eyes from the sun and breathing in the sea air.
Now the only thing I have to be efficient about is my deadline.
Clare: As the publisher is building up to publication of a debut novel it is always an odd fact that the author is often busily writing the second novel. I have seen how difficult this can be – you have all the time in the world to write your first novel and then suddenly you have a deadline and an impatient editor breathing down your neck for Book Two. But my advice to authors is always the same: make the most of the time you have ahead of publication of your debut novel. You’ll be surprisingly busy come publication and you will have to step out of the world of your second novel and back into the first – at least for a while. So those months of calm before publication are your opportunity to get the first draft formed and – ideally! – mostly down on paper.
I know that it sounds like a terrible bossy editor sort of thing to say but it really is worth trying to do this. Once the first novel is out on the world you will have – hopefully! – responses from readers and reviewers, both positive and negative most likely. And writing with those reviews ringing in your ears is extremely hard to do, even for the most experienced writer. Use this chance to write in isolation – you won’t regret it.
So when Sophia tells me her second novel is forming in her mind I feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. I know it will be a while until I can read it and I know there’s a lot of work left to do in launching The Silversmith’s Wife too, but I feel that buzz of the second book pulling me in too – and it’s one of the joys of being an editor, I have to confess.
The winner of last installment's competition is Lisa Farrell. Congratulations, Lisa!