Three Dirty Birds Chirping about Sequels, Series, and Sequelitis

In which Zoe is bunnied while we watch, and the Dirty Birds risk excommunication.

It’s a Random Dirty Bird Day! Today we’re talking about…what are we talking about?

Ana: We’re talking about how sad we are that we can’t get guest birds.

Kate: We need some guest birds. That whole work-life balance thing is doing us in.

Ana: I have to eat so much chocolate because I can’t get people to bird with me. -puts it on her list of excuses for her chocolate lifestyle-

Kate: Mmmm, chocolate. I’m eating the first Easter bunny of the year right now. I can’t wait for the kid to come up looking for some, so I can offer her his bum.

Zoe: I keep eying the Easter bunnies at the store, but I haven’t bought one. Yet.

Ana: I don’t have any either.

Kate: Now I feel special. 🙂

Ana: Only because you got the first Easter bunny bum of the year.

Kate: The Great Fluffy Orange Hunter triumphs!

Actually, today we’re not talking about how much chocolate we’re eating (though I’m sure it’s going to come up, because we are who we are). Instead, we’re talking about sequels, and series, and sequelitis.

Ana: Actually, did you make that last word up?

Kate: It’s the illness you suffer when the stuff you wrote in your original story makes it impossible to do the cool thing you thought up for the next one, because it violates canon. It’s an illness that involves much weeping and eating of chocolate.

Ana: I want to say that’s an illness I’m deeply familiar with, but the only time this has happened is with a story that was never, well, officially published so I just went back and changed the first story. Again and again. While eating chocolate. (Now when I sent stories to publishers I’m always scared that I’ll think of things I want to change later.)

Zoe: It would be handy if we could publish our stories on those Magic Doodle pads, so we can just change it as we go and no reader will ever know. (They’ll just think they went crazy.)

Kate: Live action editing!

Ana: I like making readers think they’re crazy.

Zoe: I just love erasing my tracks.

Ana: Is it just me or does Zoe get scarier every week?

Kate: I sleep with a cross and holy water now, because garlic makes me wheeze.

Ana: I thought you did that because you live with a teenager.

Kate: Naw, that’s the ring of loose change in front of my bedroom door. By the time she’s picked it all up, she’s forgotten what she wants me for and is rejoicing in her new-found riches.

Zoe: : I need to try something like that with Mr. Rider. He’s starting to become inured to the sounds of gay porn playing loudly at the doorway.

Kate: Lol, here we go again. It’s like herding cats–we never seem to go in the direction we plan, even when we’re the ones making the decision. And we promised ourselves!

Ana: Sorry, my brain stopped at ‘gay porn’ and didn’t hear what you were saying.

Kate: Lol.

Zoe: I’m writing a sequel right now. I’d say “remind me to never do it again,” but honestly it’s on par with writing any book. A lot of work.

Ana: When I wrote my sequel to my first book, I liked that I had most of the characters worked out already. But at the same time it’s more difficult to give them new arcs.

Kate: I find I have to keep rereading the first one, even though I’ve made notes, because I don’t remember some of the little details and things that were said or implied, and those are often the things that the next book hinges on.

Zoe: Since Word takes so long to open an 82,000-word file, I’ve just been sticking brackets in the sequel to remind myself to look up the info later. Fortunately it’s been minor details, not anything I need to verify in order to make sure I don’t go down a wrong road.

Kate: I’ve been considering a third monitor, so I can keep the original open on one screen and flip through it. Or that might just be my tech greed showing it’s ugly head. I do like toys…

But seriously, I do find myself going back to the original a lot, for stuff that wouldn’t be covered by Weiland’s character interviews or extended outlines.

Ana: There’s things she didn’t cover? Oh right, kinks and such….(Not that I’d have to remind myself of those)

Kate: I’ve kind of got myself coming and going, because I’m doing a prequel and a sequel for the same book, so I’m writing in both of them at the same time in order to keep things in line with each other. It’s weird, but it’ll be fun to see stuff foreshadowed in the prequel and show up in the sequel.

Zoe: I wonder if I started working on book 3 of the trilogy now if I’d finish it before book 2. What I didn’t think about before I decided to do a trilogy was that the sloggy middle would now be an entire book long.

Ana: Poor Zoe.

Kate: It’s an idea. Even if you only get part of it done, it might shake things loose for number 2.

Zoe: It gets more exciting in the later half of book 2, but the set up… *sigh*

Kate: Add some zombie Easter bunnies, that’ll liven it up. “Eat them, before they eat you!”

Ana: Zombie Easter bunnies are your solution to everything. It’s like a substisolution.

Kate: High risk, high reward.

Ana: I was pondering adding a third book to my… book with a sequel. But I’m not sure about it and that makes it difficult because I want to get book one and two out of the door, but I keep thinking that if I eventually want to do a third book, I should set it up in book 1 and 2 before publishing those. (As I tend to want to go back to change things so other things can happen)

Kate: I wonder if all pantsers feel that way. I know I do.

Ana: I just have to stop dragging my feet and come up with a definite plotline for book 3 so I know what’s needed. (And then I’d have to somehow stick to that plotline.)

Kate: Hahaha, that’s funny! We both know how that goes.

Ana: Remember how I said I was going to pants my Goodreads m/m group story? And then I was all “I accidentally plotted it like I’ve never plotted a story before” ? Yeah, I’m back to pantsing already. 7k in. I think the outline lasted all of 3k.

Kate: Not surprised at all. I would dearly love to outline something and have it stick beyond the first five paragraphs.

Ana: So we’ve talked about sequels. Do we have thoughts on series?

Kate: I think you need to have strong characters for either of those. And a real goal in mind, growth for the characters and a gradual increase in the conflict over the whole thing.

Ana: I’m not sure. In romance, I often see series where you have side characters take over the next book of a series, even if they were barely present in the ‘original’ book and then the prior main couple gets a few cameo appearances.

Kate: I’m a bit iffy about those. If a character is going to get his own story later on, he should really play more than a bit part in the first story. At least, have some impact on it. Although, I’ll admit to reading books, not because I’m interested in the main characters, but because of the cameos of previous characters. Although, if you’re going to do that, it better be a damn good cameo, where they still have some agency, and not just a quick, “I know you like these guys, so here they are for a total of two pages doing nothing.” (I was just disappointed by a book that did that.)

Zoe: My fear with starting a series is that it will suffer the GRRM effect—plot threads multiplying like rabbits beyond any possibility of being able to tie them all up without having to write forty-seven-zillion brick-sized books.

Kate: Oh, yes, that’s a tough one to keep on top of. The plot-lines I’ve killed off…

Zoe: What if our existence is all the result of a series God decided to try writing, and it just got way out of control?

Kate: I hope he has something good planned for me. Wonder where he keeps his outlines?

Zoe: He gave you a bunny butt. What more do you want?

Ana:I think he’s more of a pantser.

Zoe: I have a feeling that’s the case.

Kate: That makes me nervous.

Zoe: Now I’m imagining him up there going, “Shit. I shouldn’t have killed Kennedy off back in ‘63. I could have really used him here.”

Ana: Better throw a random hurricane here to distract people from my poor plotting skills.

Zoe: I see that he only tried the “Shit. What if I bring this character back from the dead?” trick once before realizing how cheesy it was.

Kate: That was probably a good choice. Though, did he not do it twice? Or was the first one foreshadowing?

Zoe: At any rate, he did it less often than GRRM or the American Horror Story writers.

Ana: There’s an anime studio called Studio Sunrise who does it so often fans have coined the term ‘sunrisen’ for resurrected characters.

Kate: Lol, gotta love the fans.

Zoe: “Sunrisen” is an awesome term. ~Is totally not thinking about how to work that into a vampire story~

Kate: Like an un-vampire? How would that work?

Zoe: I’m thinking more that sunlight turns vampires into zombies.

Ana: How do vampires turn into zombies. Are they suddenly undead? Wait…

Zoe: Okay, it’s probably not perfect. Scratch the vampire part – what if sunlight turns dead bodies into zombies? (I guess that would cut down on the incidence quite a bit. Just bury them overnight.) (So scratch that idea too.)

Kate: Depends. How fast does it happen? Is it like being infected where if you die and the sunlight hits you, even if they bury you, you still turn? Or do they change within minutes? That would make car crashes fun. Imagine a train or a El going off the tracks…

Zoe: What if sunlight just brings dead people back to life? They seem perfectly normal. But of course, over time, you discover they’re not. But for a while…they look and act normal. Some people wouldn’t even know they’d died, because they’d pass out, then wake up.

Kate: Oh, you have to write that.

Zoe: People’d be digging up the recently buried, dragging their loved ones out on the lawn.

Kate: This is such a creepy idea. I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

Zoe: Poor Kate. Just eat the bunny bum. It’ll make you feel better.

Kate: Nom, nom, nom.

Zoe: The what-if part of the idea is always the easy part. The real work is in figuring out what the story is. And then, to get back to the discussion topic, WHAT TO DO IN THE SEQUEL!

Ana: Luckily we have a talk on plot bunnies coming up!

Kate: Are they chocolate?

Zoe: I wish. Then they’d be easy to get rid of. Om nom nom.

About the author: Kate Lowell

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