Monday, July 31, 2017

Crafting The Second Story by Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson (Guest Post)

Planning on writing a sequel or expanding your story into a series?

Here are a few tips we’ve learned while working on Fairday Morrow and The Talking Library, the second book in the Fairday Morrow series- coming this October!

The Overall Picture:
      Remember to weave in the backstory! It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised about what you assume readers will remember about the places and characters. Plus, the new readers will need to be filled in.
Tip: Finding a balance for how much backstory you include is important, and that’s why securing a good developmental editor is key. 
      Scene setting is critical. Pulling returning readers back in, and giving new readers the experience for the first time is the goal. The Begonia House has lots of nooks and crannies, which give it depth and character, so keeping continuity for the second book was challenging, but also very satisfying and fun. Who wouldn’t want to re-visit a spooky old victorian house packed with secrets and magic! :)
      Building the new world of The Talking Library into the foundation of the the Begonia House was hard work, but in the world of story, anything’s possible. When you let your imagination loose, you might open a whole new can of worms and not even know it. Letting ideas flow, even if you wind up tossing them, is part of the process of crafting the scene- like shaving down the story to reveal its face.
Tip: We set up an “Information Dump” file. This is where we put all the good sentences we write after we spend hours getting them just so, then decide to cut them. Again, a bit painful, but part of the process. Sometimes, we can fit them into another spot where they’ll work better. The less you are attached to the specific sentences, and the more you are committed to the whole picture of your project, the easier it is to let go.

      Keep your clues organized! In our case, the first mystery in The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow (book 1) ties into the second case the DMS (Detective Mystery Squad) tries to solve, so there were a lot of pieces to fit into the puzzle, and keeping the clues straight was important. Having consistent details is what pulls together story magic.
Tip: We collaborate using Google Docs to organize our writing. It’s a great tool for authors. It’s easy to share ideas and keep the manuscript in order.

Writing the sequel, or the next book in the series, is harder than the first book because you need to paint a clear picture of your characters and past book(s), but you also need to keep everything fresh while introducing new ideas. Organization is the key! Putting the final touches in place will be a reward and although it doesn’t come easy, it will be worth it.

Are you working on a second book or working on a series? We’d love to hear your thoughts and tips. :)

Happy writing!
~Jess and Stephanie

Connecticut Authors, Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson

The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow
Middle grade mystery for ages 8 and up

Fairday Morrow and The Talking Library

Catch a clue at
Follow the DMS on Twitter: @DMSfiles

 Fear not the unexpected.
Anything’s possible.


  1. Thanks for featuring our story! :) ~ Jess & Stephanie

  2. Weaving in backstory is a balance for sure.

    I wonder how collaboration between two authros works for a second book. Does it make it easier to keep all the threads straight, or harder?

    1. Kell- That is a great question! We have all of our notes very organized in Google Drive and that helps us to keep everything straight. Plus, having a co-author is like an extra back up check for me and helps me keep things straight. :)

  3. As I write a series too I love these tips Jess and Stephanie! Especially the "information dump" file. All good stuff to keep organized in writing a sequel. When I weave in backstory, I do a pass in the MS revisions to make sure I'm dropping it in only in tidbits and building on the info too so not repeating myself. I also ask myself: Does the reader NEED to know this?

    I LOVED The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow and can't wait for the sequel :).

    1. Donna- We did the same and we also made a file of what was included in each chapter (new and old info) so we could refer to it and see when we explained or introduced certain parts of the story. Also- giving the MS to a couple people who hadn't read book 1 helped because we could hear from them where they were confused and needed backstory. :)

      Awww! Thanks! We are so excited for Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library to come out this fall. We hope you love the next mystery too.
      ~Stephanie and Jess

  4. Working on The Sacrifice Series. A definite tip is 'know your story'. It might sound simple but I had to cut two books out of the series and place them with new ideas. Why? Because when I looked at them closely they didn't tie to the entire story as they should have. Sometimes we look at a shiny idea and assume it will work. But always be mindful so that you don't end up having to cut or replace an entire story/novella. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips.

    1. Sheena-kay- That is excellent advice! After we finished the MS and we made notes about each chapter and what was included it helped us to see some holes and things that weren't explained. Definitely important for writers to know their story! :)
      ~Jess and Stephanie


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!