I believe novels should start with a bang
I've been working on The Far Beyond, the second book of a trilogy, since shortly after finding a home for its predecessor The Just Beyond with 48fourteen. I set it aside for a while during the first book's editing, but with The Just Beyond's release a couple of weeks ago and the flood of positive reader feedback, the new book is back on the front burner with the flame on high.
The Far Beyond continues the story of Michael Chandler, this time following his journey into the dark reaches of the Afterlife in search of his lost brother Max. I've got it scoped out chapter by chapter, and much of it actually written, but for months I had been struggling over exactly how to open story.
I believe novels should start with a bang, and The Just Beyond does. But there is a certain amount of flashback early on, unavoidable given how essential Michael's life history is to later events. I wanted to tighten things up in The Far Beyond -- which will be a shorter, more intense book -- to keep the characters in riveting peril from start to finish. I'd thought up many options to accomplish this, but none of them quite captured what I was after -- until now.
Like the first book, The Far Beyond is a self-contained story even though it's part of a trilogy, written to leave readers feeling fully satisfied even though the over-arching tale doesn't culminate until Book 3. Still, for people who never read The Just Beyond but find The Far Beyond in their hands, some basic foundation from the first book would no doubt be helpful. Besides, many TJB readers -- quite possibly most -- will have forgotten key elements in the first book by the time they read the second, and will need a refresher. I wanted to avoid flashbacks as much as possible in serving these objectives, but as I thought it through, that proved harder than anticipated.
Then all of a sudden, kaBOOM! The answer came to me. Without revealing too much, the solution involves recounting the necessary background in the form of tense contemporaneous conversations. It's one of those things that makes perfect sense, except before you've thought of it. Having been enlightened in this way, the first chapter now zings just as I wanted it too. Book 2 is well on its way to being a crisp, compelling read in its own right, which was the whole idea.
Nobody would care about the book I'm writing now if The Just Beyond wasn't doing so well, and I am humbled and smiling over readers' reception so far. For that, and for the resulting interest that's building for the sequel, I owe a debt of gratitude to 48fourteen. The editing was long and brutal, but necessary, and I learned a great deal from both the publisher and the editor who handled my book. I feel like I'm writing smarter because of it, and I hope that discipline will make The Far Beyond a sequel worthy of your time.
If you haven't read the first book, grab The Just Beyond while it's still on holiday pricing, and post an honest review on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com to help others who might enjoy the book find it. If you liked it yourself, keep watching here for news as The Far Beyond takes shape. :) - Mark