Darklight: The Sequel
I’ve been fumbling around with thoughts in my head about a possible sequel to Darklight. Today as I mowed the lawn, a time I often find myself reflecting on things, I had more succinct, concrete ideas float into my mind.
So I started to write them down. At first I drafted a page inside my blog (my trick for storing thoughts in “the cloud”). Later I created a subfolder in Dropbox right next to “darklight” titled “darklight_sequel” and began turning this into something real.
What I’ve learned so far
Much of my thinking process has involved me reviewing some of my favorite works. I have read three of the Dune chronicles. The way Frank Herbert embeds the key brand of “Dune” into every title suggests that I should pursue something similarly. I stared at the screen for a minute and nothing came to mind. Oh well.
So what about point-of-view and 1st person vs. 3rd person? I just read the first three Jack Reacher novels. The first one, Killing Floor, is written in 1st person. I found it riveting, and at the same time, recognized it as very tricky to pull off. I had already observed something similar in The Hunger Games and its 1st person perspective. Darklight never did fit that mold, but this possible sequel just might.
I also thought carefully about what I liked about the Jack Reacher books, all the Foundation & Robot novels by Asimov, and Dune. In the intro to Killing Floor, Lee Child really caught my attention in explaining how he made character development the most important aspect of his writing. It seems valuable to listen to advice from a multi-best selling author, right?
I had already approached Darklight kind of like that. The Snow Flake method suggested it. But even now as I write down ideas of a new plot, I am focusing hard on character development. I want a strong character that my readers will connect with and want to embrace. I want them to cheer and whoop when my character triumphs. I want them to cry when there is a setback. No one will do that if character development is sacrificed for other things like environment, plot, and cheap tactics.
I’ll let you in on something. Darklight has magic. It’s a techno-fantasy novel, meaning it has scifi and fantasy mixed together. I’m not sure how my future agent will rate it. But another thing I gleaned from a Lee Child interview was to do research. I have been digging around and double checking that I don’t go overboard and let magic become a crutch.
Consider this. On one blog site, I saw a great comparison between a couple famous books, both of which have magic throughout. I’m not going to mention the titles. But the article compared how in one novel, magic served as a medium but was never a “get out of jail free” card. Instead, it caused things to go wrong, and provided a means to make things right.
In truth, it was characters that prevailed and not magic. In the other story, magic often contradicted itself, was used as the way to move the story along, and was outright inconsistent. It provides the means for the writer to dig themselves out of a hole. I don’t want that at all, so as I pencil down notes about my sequel, I think carefully about holding magic in check and not letting it morph into the deus ex machina.
Thoughts acquiring form
While mowing the lawn, I had tiny ideas pop into my head. One of them sounded outrageous at the time. It contradicted what I thought on previous days when I was pondering this sequel. Later as I wrote this latest idea down, it sounded astonishing, unbelievable, highly contentious, and shocking to me. I didn’t know if I would like it at all. In other words, perfect. I want to tell you what it is, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait on the story itself.
I also read the Snowflake Method again. I had written a page of thoughts and ideas down before circling back to capture my concepts into a single, descriptive sentence. Then I expand that single sentence into a one-paragraph description. As I wrote that paragraph, I felt like this story was catching fire. I could already feel my hunger to send the query to Query Shark.
I am beginning to visualize the first scenes. I can almost see the whole thing unfolding before the main character’s eyes in 1st person. I need to invest more time in designing the rest of the characters as well as the key plot points. But I can already feel the excitement.