How to Start the Next in a Series

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Whether you’re working on the second, third, sixth, or fifteenth book in your series, it always feels like a completely different monster compared to the first one. This may be why my second book is taking me years to finish, far longer than the first.

I published my first one with the note “Book One of the Third Face Trilogy” over three years ago, but these tips are intended to apply even if your first book is still an unrevised mess that you only finished last night.

Find a new beginning.

We’ve all been taught from early in our writing careers that a good story needs a beginning, middle and end. Somehow, though, many of us seem to think that if we have a previous book, the beginning is pretty much written. Or, we have to spend the first chapter or two reminding the reader what happened in the first book.

Instead, write the beginning as if it’s the very beginning–what you wrote before does not count at all. Imagine that your reader not only hasn’t read your other work, but doesn’t know it exists. Establish a brand-new scene and go from there.

Re-introduce characters–briefly.

Again, act like these people are brand new. Bring them up and remind us what they look like, then treat your past work as their backstory. You probably have some rules in mind for how to sprinkle in backstory, so just keep to those and you’ll be fine. It might be okay to mention one or two things a character did before, but I wouldn’t spend more than a sentence on it at a time.

Only say it if it’s relevant.

Your main character’s village was burned down? There was a huge war? Some characters have crazy magic powers? Nobody likes the local ruler? Well, unless it’s going to be important to something that’s happening right now, I don’t want to hear it.

To be fair, this part is mainly aimed at science fiction and fantasy works that have a lot of worldbuilding thrown in. The fact is, readers don’t want you to build the whole world in one volume. That’s why a series is great–you can give us the pieces we need to understand one facet of your larger story, then expand on that as you go on.

To summarize: old information will (mostly) drag the new story down.

We might need to know certain key things to get what’s going on, but anything beyond that is fluff. It’s okay if a new reader doesn’t know about everything that’s happened–in fact, that might get them to go back and read the previous one. That’s a nice bonus if you ask me.

Thanks for reading, guys! Are you somewhere in this process? Done it before? What are your tips for continuing the journey?

Life Goals

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EDIT: I almost didn’t post this publicly. There’s something sort of personal about all this, and I have a hard time putting myself out there. Sounds silly, but it’s true. So thanks in advance for just taking a look at it.

Alright, guys. I’m trying to work out what this blog will be about, while also holding myself accountable. I’m hoping to keep this short, since there are a lot of these, here we go.

Goal 1: Release Book Trilogy

As I mentioned in my last post, my first book came out in 2013 and I haven’t made much progress since. That’s silly, considering there were supposed to be three. So, for each of the other two books, I’m giving myself a year to write, and around eight months to polish up and release. With a little work each week, that’s plenty of time.

Goal 2: Make a Respectable Living

In my personal notes, I actually have a dollar amount tied to this, and I’m only giving myself about two years to get there. I don’t know if it’s too easy or too hard to get to that specific number, but the important thing is that I hone my skills, hunt for what’s out there, and don’t settle.

Goal 3: Release Dungeon University

This one’s tough. Dungeon University is just getting started, but I think that if I dedicate some real hours to it, I can accomplish this goal in about 2 years. I’d break this goal down into parts, but that would take way more space than I have here.

Goal 4: Get a Game Onto Steam’s Front Page

Hang on. Isn’t this sort of an extension of Goal 3? Well, the game that I do this with may be Dungeon University, or any other one that I make some day. That goal is just to make a game–this goal is to effectively promote a game. I have some marketing to learn.

Goal 5: Physical Fitness

I’m not even a couch potato–if I can avoid getting out of bed in the morning, I won’t. So being able to run for any length of time, lift even a few dozen pounds… it’ll be tough. I have to do just a little bit of work every day. Once I can do one push-up with good form, maybe I can put a number to this.

Goal 6: Romantic Aspirations

I really care about the woman that I’m with right now. After a year and a half, we are quite certain about the future we have together. I have to give her my all and move forward with her in the next few years, and at times, it will take some work.

Goal 7: Japanese Fluency

Specifically: I want to be able to play video games in Japanese without having to stop and look at a guide or look up every other word. I want it to feel more or less normal to me. I’ve taken two years of Japanese class, and I think in a couple more years I’ll be able to do all that.

Goal 8: Stay Sane

Unlike the others, this goal does not have a deadline. In a way, it’s an anti-goal. I want to do the other 7 things without losing everything else I care about, or losing my mind. Tall order? Maybe. But I’ll try.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you think I can do it? What goals do you have on the horizon?

The Long Hiatus

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In April of 2013, I published my first book, The Third Face. I was really proud of it at the time, and I planned it as the first in a trilogy. It even says that, right on the cover!

The second book is still not written.

Actually, I had done a quick draft of it right after The Third Face came out, but I wasn’t happy with it, so I resolved to rewrite it. At the time, my college career was getting serious, and then I came up with the concept to create a game…

Before I knew it, years had gone by without me so much as mentioning my second book, The Demon’s Guardian. But, that is about to change. Starting this week, I’m going to try to write it one small piece at a time. It may still take a long time to release, but there will be steady, if small, progress.

Turns out I had cover art for it saved on my computer, so you can check that out below. The only thing I want to change is the font, since that part is not so hot.

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What’s Dungeon University?

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On this blog, there’s going to be a lot of video game related content. Besides my side work reviewing games at opRainfall, I’m also creating my own video game known as Dungeon University.

Wicked Sprout Logo

Dungeon University‘s, uh, “mascot.”

Basically, it’s a turn-based RPG heading to the PC, filled with dungeon crawling and character interaction. Uniquely, each character’s level is the total of the bonds they share with other party members. Between battles and special dialogue sequences, each character will get to know each other as partners, as well as the group as a whole.

As the name suggests, our heroes are college students, but most of their courses are in things like sword techniques or healing magic. You can choose topics to study in order to work toward new and better skills, then take your pick of mysterious dungeons to explore and battle in. As you learn more about the school’s dark secrets, some scary people might come to challenge you…

If you’ve played Persona 3 or 4, or Trails of Cold Steel, it draws a lot of inspiration from them, but I wanted to tie the character links even closer to the battle gameplay.

This is just the overview, obviously. It will take time, but I hope to make this website the home of all things Dungeon University. So, stay tuned!

Finals Incoming!

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Here at Western Michigan University, we’re a week away from finals. It’s kind of terrifying to think that the end is so near–once I finish my last exam next Thursday (April 28th for those reading from the future), it’ll be time to move out of my dorm room for good and land in the job hunting world.

There’s also, of course, the worry of grades and so on. In past semesters, I’ve found that I could rest easy in the last couple of weeks because I had done really well in the classes. Not so this time–in some cases, I have to get a pretty good grade on a final in order to graduate here.

The other problem is that I don’t have a break on homework. Everything is still in full tilt: one class still has a reading, discussion and normal class session despite the fact that an 8-page research paper is due in just a few days. Another is similar, and two of my classes expect me to do a major group presentation in the next two days.

Given all that, I think you’ll probably forgive me if I can’t focus on much else right now.

The Real, True, Actual Site

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I’ve had a lot of web sites over the years.

My first ever blog ran from the beginning of 2011 to 2013. It wasn’t bad, but I was kind of just posting because I had heard that’s what authors should do. Okay, I lied. It was kind of bad. I was still sort of a kid–can you blame me?

Next I came over to WordPress. It was a good attempt, and I kept posting like crazy, making a real, consistent effort to put out nice posts… for about 8 months. After that, I abruptly fell off the wagon. The blog was only about my books and writing, and at that point I began to realize there was much more to my life than that.

Ephix Media Website

So, I tried to make a general site on Weebly, but without a clear direction, that quickly changed to being an official site for my game design project. Of course, college kept getting harder as I went on, and I was starting to realize that I had to find a real, honest job afterward. It wasn’t that I was abandoning my game design, or even my writing. It was just that I had to focus on other things. So, I neglected that very focused site.

That’s why this blog is going to be all-in-one, instead. I plan to set it up so that readers can easily filter the categories they care about, whether it’s writing, video games, or just me as a person. But it will all come to this site, so even if I’m only focused on one subject for a short while, there will still be some sort of content coming out.

It’s been said that a good blog should focus on one subject. Do you think that always has to be true?