Writing Tip #348: How to Know If You’re Crazy

Posted: April 29, 2015 in Writing
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Like all things pertaining to writing a novel, or just writing creatively, knowing if you are a crazy person does not come automatically or easy. I mean, think about it … you’ve chosen to be a writer. You must be half-way crazy from the get-go.

So how do you know? Talking to yourself? All writers do that. Having invisible friends? Yeah, we do that, too. Making up elaborate stories, including all the behind-the-scenes details and even what everyone was thinking? That’s sort of the whole point of writing.

You see the dilemma. However I think I can help. I recently made a writing decision which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time – a natural decision based on the facts given and the options available to me. But upon reflection this decision clearly indicates that I am a crazy person. So please attend as I explain, and if you find yourself making a similar decision you can rest assured that you are also crazy.

So, my daughter and I finished our first joint novel. As a consequence we have been querying and otherwise carrying on in every effort to secure an agent and, ultimately, publication. To that end I have been reading everything I can get my hands on to help me understand the process, and that includes a great deal of advice from agents and fellow writers who have been published. Some of that advice has to do with what one should be working on next while they query – because everyone agrees, you don’t stop writing.

Now, there are two categories of novel writers: those who have written a stand-alone novel, and those who have written a novel with sequels in mind (in query parlance, we call these novels “Stand alone, with series potential”). We are firmly in the latter category. While we didn’t have plans to write a series when we started, ideas for additional books occurred to us as the story evolved. So now we’re writing a series. Not only that, but I came up with an idea for a spin-off series for a younger audience, following the little brother of the main character.

Here’s where my decision came in.

Some people say you should be well into the next book in your series when you query your first book, to show prospective agents you’re serious and committed (not mentally committed; that comes later). Also, in the unlikely event you actually do find an agent interested in your book, they are going to be more likely to make a deal with a publisher if the publisher doesn’t have to wait forever for the sequel.

On the other hand, many people suggest that your second book should be completely unrelated to your first. The theory here is that if you get a book deal for your first book and that book sells poorly, the publisher may take a second chance on you with a new book, but not with a sequel to a lemon.

So which way does one jump? To sequel or not to sequel? I’m writing in my spare time only, between family and two jobs; my writing time is pretty limited so I have to choose wisely how to spend it. This is the point at which I made the afore-mentioned decision.

I decided I’m going to do both – write the sequel to our first book and the first book in the other series. I’m clearly crazy. And you can see why, can’t you? Clear as day.  It’s too late for me, obviously, but with luck you can stop yourself before you are too far gone.

You’re welcome.

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