Once upon a time, a young princess and her father embarked upon a quest. They wanted to share a tale of adventure and magic and friendship. They spent months of trudging through the jungles full of Wild Ideas and deserts of Empty Thoughts. They set sail on raging seas but were caught in the Doldrums where the Winds of Progress did not blow for weeks. They are on that journey still, looking for a Patron with a bard who will spread their tale all over the world.
But this isn’t about that. The Story of the Three Little Hashtags is a much more humble tale. It is a tale of overcoming modest obstacles and scoring tiny triumphs. Like the Little Engine That Could or Jack Sprat.
Writing the first chapter of a novel is hard. But it is hard over a long period of time; you will work on your first chapter longer than you will work on any other part of your novel. And you will be working on it until the moment it goes to press. However, writing the first chapter of a sequel is much harder (I’ve found). Because who is your audience? Fans of your first book who know all of your characters and how they met and what they did and all of the running jokes? Or people who have never read your first book? With the first book, it’s all about starting in the right place – not too soon and not too late – so you hit the ground running but so you don’t have to fill the reader in on a lot of back story. But with a sequel there HAS to be back story. You CAN’T start in the “right” place, because the “right” place was book one!
I’ve been struggling with the new chapter one for weeks. Months, really. How much back story do I include, how much character introduction do I need to give? Nothing felt right, so the motivation to write was weak. Which meant no progress, which meant no resolution, which meant even less motivation.
Well, last night I finished the draft of chapter one. Actually got to a perfect place to drop a little cliffhanger and close with some tension. And then the magic happened: I typed those three little hashtags that declares to the universe the chapter is complete.
What remains to be seen is whether or not they will live happily ever after.