Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Challenges of Writing the Next Book

We welcome Rena Koontz and congratulate her on her second release, The Devil She Knew.

by Rena Koontz

Not quite a year ago, I broke into the publishing world with my debut novel that, quite frankly, I’d been trying to get published for, off and on, almost four years.  I would tell those who asked that I just needed to get my foot in the door – catch that one big break – and my career as an author would be on its way.

After that – it would be gravy.

Well, my foot is in the door, and earlier this year my second novel was released. But, I assure you, I haven’t tasted the gravy yet!

The challenges of writing a book worthy of publication are enormous. The challenges of writing a second book, new and different and more readable than the first, are mammoth.

And now, as I wait for word from a publisher about my third book, and begin work on a fourth, I am, quite frankly, scared to death. Writers are full of self-doubt and I’ve never met one, published or unpublished, who didn’t question whether or not their work was good enough.

“Oh, Rena,” my friend said when we celebrated the contract for my second release, “didn’t you know the editor would love it?”

Well – no! It is the opposite of gravy. Instead of being easier, it is harder.  Being published doesn’t guarantee the next book gets published. It’s not uncommon for an editor to reject a new submission from an established author.

The bar I’ve set elevates with each new manuscript. I strive to use different words to describe my scenes, my characters and the action, both in the bedroom and in the plot. I must tell a different story than I did in my first book, “Love’s Secret Fire,” or the second, “The Devil She Knew.”

Well, that’s easy, friends say. One is about arson and one is about a mob hit. Just pick a different subject. But the tale I tell, and the characters I bring to life, must be ones I can identify with. They must be believable and appeal to the reader and above all, be unique. They can’t resemble the folks I portrayed in other books. Just as every person you meet is different, so must my characters be different and their stories distinctive when you meet them.

Each time I sit down at my keyboard, I come face to face with the nagging question: What if I can’t write it better this time?

What if the reader liked the last book so much, the next one is a letdown? It is a fear I suspect every writer faces.

Sure, I have an arsenal of ideas thanks to a background in newspaper reporting and a vivid imagination. And I have a Thesaurus at my fingertips so that I can change “happy” to “glad” and use words like chocolate, coffee or tan to describe brown this time around. But making the next book better than the last extends well beyond describing a color differently between book one and book three.

My ideas must be fresh, my plot more intriguing and I must introduce you, the reader, to new people who embark on a new adventure, one that they share with you.

What if I can’t do it?

It’s a dilemma, one that I hope I can overcome as Chrissy and Mike come to life on the pages of my next story. All I can do is give the reader my best and hope it’s good enough.

What are the challenges that you face as you write your next novel?

More information about Rena is available on her website, www.renakoontz.com.

“Love’s Secret Fire” and “The Devil She Knew” are available at http://www.amazon.com/.
You can also find Rena’s romantic suspense novels on www.barnesandnoble.com, Apple iBooks and other E-retailers.


Brenna Chase said...

Interesting post! That seems like it would be a pretty common anxiety, coming up with fresh ideas and making the next story better. Good luck!

Rena Koontz said...

Thanks, Brenna,
I hope to hear from other authors today with similar concerns -- just so I know I'm normal! Rena

Becky Lower said...

Great post, Rena. I agree with you--the sophomore slump is something all published authors contend with. I'd like to say it gets easier with each book that is accepted, but it doesn't. I still bite my fingernails with each one, even though I think my writing is getting better each time. Good luck with book 3!

Deborah O'Neill Cordes said...

I agree with you, Rena. All artists deal with nagging doubt and the fear that "you are only as good as your last performance." Perhaps we can find comfort in knowing that criticism is subjective and beyond our control. But that doesn't make those one star reviews any easier to read! ;)

RT Wolfe said...

Hang in there, Rena. It's going to come and it's going to be great. :)
-R.T. Wolfe

Rena Koontz said...

Thanks Becky and Deb,
I should have known my CR sisters would have my back. You are both so supportive and encouraging as is Lynn, co-host of this blog. We trudge on together! Rena

Rena Koontz said...

Thanks, R.T.