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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bryan Thomas Schmidt : The Saga of Davi Rhii - Keeping a Sequel Fresh

Guest Post: The Saga Of Davi Rhii-Keeping A Sequel Fresh
People ask this question a lot: how do you keep the next book fresh. This especially seems to be the case with sequels. In part, I think it stems from Hollywood moviemaker’s tendency to believe sequels should be rehashes of everything people liked about the first film, which is mainly an attempt to grab money rather than please people artistically and usually results in drab fair. The result is that people come to expect sequels to deliver less than the prequel, and they also are far more ready to criticize and find fault with a sequel for not living up to expectations.
But from the creative standpoint of the writer, this creates a challenge, especially if the first book is successful, although, often times, the second book will be written and turned in just as or before the first book is released. The challenge is compounded by the timeline of publishing. The first novel may be something you’ve worked on for several years, a decade or more. But once you sign the contract, you have a year to deliver book two and a year after that for book three, so if you didn’t start on them before a deal, you suddenly find yourself facing a challenge and a tight timeline you’re not used to working in.
For me, the approach I took was to look at each book’s tone, theme and style first. For example, The Worker Prince is a coming of age tale. It is primarily Davi Rhii’s book and story, although there are two major antagonists and a number of key supporting POV characters and roles. The book has seven subplots intertwined throughout in addition to the main throughline and within these are substories of family drama, romance, friendship, rivalry, and more. Each plot and subplot has its own arc and interacts with the individual arcs of the others as well as the characters themselves. But whereas the main plot is the driving force and framework for the book, the subplots add to character development and the overall plot but deepening relationships, conflict, and theme in various ways. So, in The Worker Prince,  the subplots, ultimately, are tied to Davi’s coming of age story in some way. Everything thus is framed by this and must be written to reflect it.
With the second book, The Returning, the story becomes about a group of people rather than just Davi. Davi has a major role, sure, but we have an expanded canvass of people whom we got to know and grew to care about or despise (antagonists perhaps) in the first book and want to learn more about and spend more time with. Again, Davi is at the heart of the prime story in which the Vertullians have won freedom and are trying to be regular citizens while dissenters who resent the change still seek to cause trouble from riots to protests to assassinations. Davi investigates and seeks to uncover who’s behind this, with the help of his key friends, Yao and Farien, and yet there are subplots involving his fiancée, Tela, his mother, Miri, the two antagonists, members of the Council, etc.
Interestingly, one of the things people really liked in book 1 was the camaraderie of Davi, Yao and Farien. In The Worker Prince, they were together at the beginning and then kind of wound up on different paths with only a few encounters bringing two of them together at various times. In The Returning, by including them on the main plot with Davi, I got to keep them together for much of the book and explore the dynamics of their friendly rivalry, friendship, banter, etc. It allowed me to develop those relationship far more deeply as well as expand all three as characters in fun ways. So this was one way I captured something people liked about the first book to use in the second.
Another thing people liked was the political maneuvering and scheming of the subplots, so I brought back Aron, Tarkanius, Xalivar, Miri and others for more of that in book 2 and a number of them take on increased roles this time.
To lend the book a different feel and more urgency, I chose a thriller-style surprise story for The Returning with more intense stakes and action and faster, more sudden twists and turns that would keep readers guessing and barely let them come up for air. There are few reflective, quiet phases this time around, unlike The Worker Prince, which had a bit less intense middle section. This book’s pace and plot keeps pounding and twisting forward the whole way, like a rollercoaster ride. It creates a different feel than the first book and also allows me to make the middle chapter feel complete, despite the fact that many of its arcs carry over into the book that will follow. Still, The Returning and The Worker Prince, while they do have similiarities—world and characters above all—are different books and thus, I hope, each fresh and unique on their own.
What are some of your experiences writing sequels or next books? Have you switched genres? Have you switched POV from first to third? What are the tricks and tools you use to keep things fresh not only in your prose but creatively for you as writer and for readers? We’d love to hear about it in comments.
In Bryan’s second novel, The Returning, new challenges arise as Davi Rhii’s rival Bordox and his uncle, Xalivar, seek revenge for his actions in The Worker Prince, putting his life and those of his friends and family in constant danger. Meanwhile, politics as usual has the Borali Alliance split apart over questions of citizenship and freedom for the former slaves. Someone’s even killing them off. Davi’s involvement in the investigation turns his life upside down, including his relationship with his fiancée, Tela. The answers are not easy with his whole world at stake.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Short but sweet

I really can't say this is a slow week so I'm keeping my blog brief.  I've written a short story for submission and working on an idea for my next one. Plus, I plan to put 'Time Traveling Coffers' together and get it sent off to the publisher by Friday, the 20th, now that I have rewrites and bios back from all my authors. Got another rejection. Which is fine, that's the life of the writer. Next week, I have a guest blogger, Bryan Thomas Schmidt author of  'The Worker Prince' and 'The Returning'.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Open call - Different Dragons

Open call.

Most everyone has the same image of dragons and there are tons of Fantasy anthologies and series on the market following pretty much the same formula.

For ‘Different Dragons’ however, what is being sought are stories with a twist. While they can be Fantasy, the editor
is also seeking Science Fiction, Paranormal, Horror, Steampunk, Mystery, Romance, Humor, Christian Speculative
and just about any genre as long as it meets the guidelines.

Writers are highly encouraged to research dragon lore and use dracos from other countries. Yes, there will be stories
about the traditional European Dragons, but examples of others are: the Chinese Lung, Korean Yong, Frost Dragon,
Knucker, American and Mexican Amphithere, Lindworm, Wyvern, Marsupial, Tibetan, Dwarf Dragons and Sea

To give the contributor an idea on what types of different ideas the editor is looking for:

1. What if a multi-headed dragon had the abilities of Medusa?
2. Was the dragon the evolutionary step between dinosaurs and birds?
3. How would the outback be different if Marsupial Dragons had evolved instead of Kangaroos?
4. In the Antarctica Scientists stun the world by discovering the still partially skin covered skeleton of a Frost Dragon
and the remains of hatched eggs.
5. Perhaps a piece of jewelry inherited from some eccentric relative contains the spirit of a dragon and is left to a very
surprised and unprepared niece or nephew.
6. What would be the result if a dragon was part lion? Or a shape shifter?
7. Dragon angel anyone?

The ideas are infinite and the above list is just a springboard. Main characters can be the dragon his/herself, a human
going through some misadventure, or even a companion animal. They can be set in modern day, on other planets,
alternate dimensions, in the past, in the future, and even in a painting. The only condition is that a dragon must appear
in some form.

Not wanted are stories with graphic violence, excessive cussing, sex scenes, sorry, if you’re characters go to bed
together it must be behind closed doors and not shared with the reader, erotica, animal cruelty or FanFiction. Rating
for the anthology is PG13. Characters whose faith is an integral part of the plot will be accepted, but please, no

All writers of all skill levels, published or not, and even teenagers, are encouraged to submit. Length can be from 1000-
6000 words. Times Roman 12. Standard Manuscript submission form.  Attach as a RTF document. Prefer original
stories. Query on reprints.

In the subject line please put: Submission: ‘Different Dragons’: Title of your story: Your name.
In cover email please tell the editor a bit about yourself, the genre of your story and a quick one line synopsis.

ALL writers are encouraged to submit. Doesn’t matter if you’re a pro with years of credits, a beginner just starting
out or a teenager - please feel free to send the editor a story. In your cover email, please tell the editor a bit about
yourself and a quick one line synopsis of the story. Include genre. If experimental, please explain the type or how so
the editor doesn’t edit out the form or reject it out of hand. Thank you.
In the Subject line please put :
Submission : Different Dragons : Title of your story : your name.
Attach as rft document.
Send to:

Payment will be $5.00 initial, plus an equal share of 50% of royalties.

Deadline will be 31 Dec 2012 // Because we are also reading for our 2012 Anthology – please do not submit for this
anthology until July 1st. Stories received before that time, will be filed in the Publisher’s email folder and risk getting
lost with all the other emails – we are hoping to release Spring 2013.

Bios will be requested is your story is accepted and should be written in third person.

As I'm telling everyone - I'm NOT looking for the traditional Fantasy story with a European dragon. Writers really need to think 'outside the box'. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Time Traveling Coffers

Last week I spent most of my time editing stories that were accepted for 'Time Traveling Coffers'. I'm a picky editor, as those who submitted will tell you. I'm currently awaiting rewrites and will be sending out bio requests and contracts early this week. I have no intention of working on the July 4th. Planned release date is October just in time for MileHiCon - my local Science Fiction Convention. Sneak peak and tentative order" Time Con - Alan Lickiss The Locket – Nikalas Nowell Island Out of Time – Dave Withe Question Unresolved – Malcolm Cowen One Large Universe – Peter Wacks The Worm – Matt Chatelain Sins of the Father – Rebecca McFarland-Kyle Johnny Cache Steps Out – Sheryl Normandeau Seven Secret Minutes – Kessie Carroll The Story Within – Kaitlyn Wooley Eternal Escapes – Carol Hightshoe (Title) – Dana Bell Serval/dragon My story is a lead in for 'Different Dragons'. It is currently open for submissions. Guidelines are on the WolfSinger Publications site.