Sweet dreams or terrified nightmares

by Amanda

Question: Sorry, but I do have a few to ask. 1) Four years ago, I wrote a book as part of a series. Now I want to add more to the story. Is there any way i can make it more "intense" for the reader wanting to what happens next? 2) One of my three MC (female) has dreams (i wrote four or five of them). Is this good for my story? 3) Not to spoil it, but how can I "kill" one off my characters, and still bring the character back to life?

Anything answers to these questions is better than nothing. Thank you.


1. So you wrote a book a few years ago and now you want to turn it into a series, even though it wasn't planned that way?

If that's correct, you're in a tough situation because you can't rewrite the first book to foreshadow the rest of the series or establish an overarching series plot. Many writers have had the experience of their first book having been written as a standalone, a story that is complete in itself. Then, having received an offer to write more, they discover there is nothing left to say about their characters. This is why many sequels are weaker than the first book (or in some cases film).

If you are lucky, you may find a way to treat the first book as simply act one of a much larger story. It depends how the first book ended. Or you may have some minor unresolved issues in the first book that could be the basis of a bigger series. (Check your backstory notes too.) If you use dramatica software, you could work out a storyform for the overarching story, treating the first book as simply the first act (containing the first signpost of the overall throughline). You will need to choose a story goal and consequence for the entire series, as well as the other plot elements (see http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html).

Of course, you could simply decide the first book is a prequel to the series (like The Hobbit was to The Lord of the Rings. In that case, you are free to design an overarching series plot with no connection to the plot of the first book except that the story world and some of the characters (such as the main character) will be the same. This is how most murder mystery series work.

If the first book was act one, the setup, then the second book will be the complication phase (act two in a tetralogy). Or it will be complication and crisis in a trilogy.

How do you make it more intense? Well, in the complication phase the stakes usually get raised. The consequences of failing become more clear. The problems and obstacles become more noticeable. The characters move further outside their comfort zones. The boundary between the complication phase and the move towards the crisis is often called the point of no return, where the main character has committed everything to the cause.

2. Sorry, I can't tell you if your main character having dreams is good or bad. Not enough info to go on.

3. Many writers have faced the challenge of bringing a character back to life after explicitly killing them. It can't always be done without feeling a little artificial. But hey, it worked with Sherlock Holmes. It's more palatable if something in the first book could be reinterpreted as a clue. However, you can try a variation on...

A. The character didn't actually die, it only looked that way. Maybe...

* the person who died was actually someone else (a twin).
* the character was saved at the last second but chose not to reveal that to anyone.
* the character was abducted and a dead body left in their place.
* the character faked their own death for some reason.
* the character was never actually there, and the killer shot a hologram, picture, mannequin, etc.

B. The character died, but an outside force resurrects them later. This works better in genre fiction where magic, advanced technology, a supernatural force, or perhaps a vampire's bite are allowed.

C. The character dies but their understudy takes over. For example, their student, brother, son, colleague, mentor, or someone else close to them enters the story and takes over their role. This happens all the time in television. For example, in the British crime series The Midsomer Murders, New Tricks and Death in Paradise the lead detective is replaced part-way through.

D. Consider writing a prequel rather than a sequel so that the character is still alive.

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