This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m writing a sequel. It’s one I’ve had in the works for a while and that I’ve tried to start probably about five times. Rather than have chapters, it’s organized by days starting with November 20th. And each time I’ve started to write the story, I haven’t gotten beyond November 20th.
I always get bogged down in exposition that I imagine is the bane of every sequel. My five drafts always end up feeling like this: SO MUCH HAPPENED IN THE FIRST STORY AND I HAVE TO CATCH YOU UP ON EVERY BIT OF IT RIGHT NOW!
It took me forever to get started on my sixth draft for NaNoWriMo… Despite being excited to finally be seriously writing it, I think I started around 5pm. But then I had this mini-epiphany moment: Why don’t I explain nothing at the start of the story? I can begin right in the middle of the action and just write what I’ve planned and see what details from the first story naturally weave themselves into the sequel. Then during the editing phase, I can rework the beginning to it’s less trial-by-fire and I’ll know what details I can leave out because they’re be explained later.
In hindsight, this kind of feels obvious, but I was very proud of myself for figuring out this strategy.
Does anyone else out there struggle with starting sequels or other subsequent stories? Any good strategies to avoid overloading your readers with exposition at the start?