Second Novel Syndrome

So, apparently Second Novel Syndrome is where an author who has had some success with their first book, comes to write the second and they panic, because of the weight of expectation on them from fans of the first book.

Obviously my success with Alfie Slider vs the Shape Shifter has been limited to positive reviews from beta-readers, but there was still an amount of ‘can I pull this off again?’ when I came to write the second.

I felt like it should have been easier, because so much of the world and its characters was already defined in the first book. I knew what I needed the second book to do to move Alfie’s story along, and I knew what the plot was going to be.

So I sat down, created a new scrivener project and wrote the opening chapter. It just flowed out, and it felt good. Here I was, back in the creative zone after weeks of editing and tweaking. Oh, how I love telling stories!

And then I got my report from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, and went back to the first book for a re-work, and then it was Christmas and…

When I went back to look at the second book, it suddenly felt like work rather than pleasure. The story has a couple of distinct sections, each of which needed some thinking about, and when I got to the end of one I felt stalled. I wasn’t sure how to start the next.

I got over that by just starting, not worrying about making it perfect, just putting myself into the situation I had left Alfie in and letting the ideas flow. They did, and I liked them (I hope you do too, when the time comes) but there was still a heaviness to it. The weight of expectation from myself: Can I do it again?

I’m just a few chapters away from finishing the second book, stalled again (procrastinating by writing this blog post) because I can’t quite envisage the big, dramatic ending. I think I’m probably lucky that I’m writing the second book before the first has had any major success; but I’m not looking forward to Third Book Syndrome 🙂

One thought on “Second Novel Syndrome

  1. Pingback: Frozen Prince | Sarah Dixon

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