Thursday, June 21, 2007

Seconds Anyone?

Posted by Lynne

I know my protagonist's name, her job and her immutable truth. I know what her son looks like; I know his struggle and how he moves the plot forward. Yet there is so much more I need to know. Most importantly, I know it won't help to rush it. It will come in it's own time, in it's own way.

The second novel. Certainly, it will be compared to the first by you, your friends and family, and of course readers and reviewers, but that won't change how you care for it.

I'm beginning to gestate my second novel. I've done some reading about time periods I plan to use, several characters' occupations, and my chosen setting. This upfront reading is fun, and it will inform my writing once I get enmeshed in it. I don't think I'll plot my novel until I get toward the middle, I like the nebulous beginning, where characters evolve and story lines surprise me. Though I'm open to seeing how things develop this time around, since I expect writing my second novel will be a completely unique experience.

Like having a second child.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I was over the moon. I'd always wanted two children and felt since I knew what I was about to experience having gone through it before, I would savor every blessed minute of it. I even bought a book called, Your Second Child by Joan Solomon Weiss.

I wasn't content with our hand-me-down crib, I marched right over to Boston Baby and bought the white cradle and companion rocking chair I was hesitant to purchase on my first go around. The setting my baby was born into needed the perfect details.

At the first ultrasound, we asked the sex of our baby. I loved knowing we were having our boy. I got a jump start on naming this character of mine; each kick and pregnancy symptom helped me to bond with him.

Going through the experience a second time, had its pluses and minuses. On the bright side, I knew the early exhaustion would give way to renewed energy in the middle and complete joy at the end; each twinge, each pain would pass, with time. No need for anxious calls to others who'd already gone through it. I knew what to expect. On the darker side, I knew carrying this child was in some ways the easy part. Like his sister before him, he would have to come into the light and endure the fickle aspects of living in the world. A world where he wouldn't always be protected by me.

If you have more than one child--or more than one book--you know no two are alike. This is as it should be. I don't want to have two identical children, nor do I want to write the same book. I want the process to have a life of its own. I know I have enough love in me for both.

As I begin to develop the life of my second novel, I'm open to how the process might be different. I'd love to hear from the friends of our blog who are writing their second novels, especially those further along than I am, who have published before.

Tell me, which labor pains are the same? Which different?


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lynne, Sometimes I feel like we are so on the same wavelength--it's almost creepy. Therese Fowler and I are going to each blog about our second-book-writing-experiences this Sunday, so do check it out.

I love the analogy of writing to pregnancy and childbirth--and I do think it evolves with the second book--just as it did with the second pregnancy/birth/child.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...


I agree we have a lot in common. Did you know the topic of your first novel and mine are the same as well? I think if we were to meet in person, we could talk on your front porch for hours.

I can't wait to read both blogs on Sunday. Your insights will be marvelous, I'm sure.


mohanley5 said...

Recently, after a family event, one of my sister's and I were discussing how two of our other siblings are SO different from the rest of us. We were all raised by the same parents, in the same house--governed by the same rules. Yet these two make Mt. Everest out of any ant hill in their lives. Maybe it's a birth order thing--maybe they're just wired differently--more likely, it's just they way they perceive their surroundings and circumstances.

There are eleven of us. None of us has chosen the same career path. Only two of us live in the same town. We all had different hobbies growing up, and my parents had an uncanny talent for steering us toward what we were good at-- what made us happy. We were either athletic, artistic, academic, but not a combination of all. Some were outgoing, others were shy. The common denominator was/is Mum and Dad.

As the author, you, depending on what you are experiencing at the time, will have different stories to tell, and will find what is good about each one, and nurture those talents or qualities in your characters to move the story along. Sometimes your characters will surprise you. They will also make you proud, sad, happy, disappointed and/or angry. They'll crack you up. They'll make you cry. They will scare the hell out of you.

We did that to our parents. My kids do that to me. What fertile ground for growing stories!!!

I bet, no, I KNOW, that eleven different novels could be written about growing up in my family.

Good luck with your second novel! I'm looking forward to your updates.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...


I KNOW, that eleven different novels could be written about growing up in my family.

You are absolutely right. Have you heard the expression, no new stories just new ways to tell them?

And indeed family life is fertile ground for storytelling. At least that's what I use to tell my stories slant.


mohanley5 said...

Hi Lynne,

Have you ever had to defend one of your characters (or yourself) to a family member who thinks that A) you modeled a character (unfairly) after them, and B)you made the character too mean, soft, sappy, whatever C) or, the way you developed a storyline "isn't really the way it happened"?

I took a grub class on how to amp up characters to make them more interesting. I went back in to my novel and tweaked a character--made her a little more witchy. I think it moved the story along better. My mother thought I was picking on one of my sisters, and she didn't like it. Then, three of my sisters were pointing fingers at eachother, saying, oh, that is so YOU!
Of course, it was not really any of them but bits and pieces of other people I knew that I molded into this character to make her stand out.

May I ask, what is your protagonist like? How did you decide that she was "the one?"

Melissa Amateis said...

I am starting work on my third novel, and I've learned what processes work for me and what don't. One thing I really learned is that I need to have an outline - a road map - of where I'm going, with all the major plot points mapped out. I leave room for surprises, but I feel so much more confident going into it. It was a lesson learned the hard way since my first novel had me writing into dead ends. The second novel was different from the first in that the story was fully realized for me. I sat down and in one evening, I typed out the plot, complete with the major plot points. I like to think that God wanted me to tell this story and just sort of told my fingers where to move. But again, while I had that initial outline, some of the deeper storylines weren't there and instead of taking the time to flesh them out, I dived into writing. That has created some hardship in editing the novel.

So! Yes, each novel is different. Each "pregnancy" is different. But for me, I've learned the "do's and don'ts" for my particular writing process. And I'm sure as I keep writing, I'll learn even more.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...


I had no idea the topics of our first books were similar. We do need to find a way to chat! I'd love to hear more about it. (Now, I have to ask--does your book #2 idea have anything to do with The Scarlet Letter?)


Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Hi Five,

My protagonist insisted she tell her own story. I just needed to get out of the way so she could tell it. Then along came another character who insisted she had a story to tell. You'll have to stay tuned to find out who won!


You raise the age old question--to plot or not to plot. I have a general outline when I begin fiction, a detailed one for non-fiction. In my novel, when I hit the mid-point, I created a detailed outline for the middle to the end. I'm sure depending on the project, how it's done varies. Good luck with you multitude of projects.


Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...


Nope, but you sure have me intrigued. I see you are well on your way to meeting your WIP goal. I'm only a few chapters into mine. Looking forward to your Sunday blog.


Therese Fowler said...

I see Judy beat me to the punch today...

Please do come by and see what she and I come up with for Sunday's posts. I think it's terrific to compare and contrast all of our experiences in this journey--thanks, Lynne, for this bit of insight into your current location.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...


Thanks for stopping by. Can't wait to read those posts.


Larramie said...

Here I am almost feeling guilty by sitting on the sidelines and reaping the benefits of all your hard work.

Good writing days to all of you!

Lisa said...

Me too Larramie! But I'm taking copious notes and cheerleading too :)