So, I’m writing the sequel to Airship, and I think one of the biggest concerns I have is that folks will be disappointed with the change in action. It’s a little more cerebral than the first book, but for good reason. With Bea as a Captain now, she can’t just respond to orders–she’s got to come up with them. And so a lot of what was just instinct and reaction before has to have forethought and logic behind it before choices are made.
This is a big transition book for Bea, seeing her grow as a character and how she comes to accept responsibility. What I want throughout this book, is to establish her as the Captain, and grow her confidence in leadership. She was comfortable bossing around before, but in the beginning of this novel, she does a lot of second guessing to her choices and self-blame–even though she’s been running the Desire for a couple years now, the decisions aren’t instinctual yet, and she doesn’t have the experience that her predecessor did with making them.
Hence the trickiness with writing this follow up…but one thing I can promise is that there’s still plenty of danger and the same smart-talking, trouble attracting, hapless crew as always.
So, one important part of writing is establishing a setting. In my most recent WIP, an urban fantasy set in Philly, my characters take several trips to Fairmount Park. Since I live in the suburbs of the city, and my husband and I planned a trip to Philly for our anniversary, we thought it’d be a blast to check out Fairmount! (It’d been years since we’d last gone.)
We found a gazebo! And wandered all through the park on a search for cherry blossoms. We couldn’t find them at first since it ended up being before peak bloom, but we managed to find one.
On top of that, we found statues as we walked along the pathway past the Please Touch Museum, and the Shofuso Gardens! Altogether, I found it enriching, and while having a blast, I also garnered details for my edits. An adventure well spent!
For some people, the titles of their manuscripts come naturally, and maybe even are planned before they start writing the piece. With my haphazard style though, that sort of planning usually comes last. Not that I don’t care about my story–that’s not the case. For me, the heart of the characters and the core of the story always come before details though, and so that’s what I establish first. However, it’s definitely led to some weird substitute titles in the meanwhile–Seer Story, Piracy Tale, etc.
And when I sit down to the drawing board, more often than not, I can’t detach enough to think of something clever to encapsulate the story I just wrote. I’ve tossed around some pretty terrible names before, ones that would get booed off the stage. My husband has helped me brainstorm in the past, since he’s read most of my novels. Usually between the two of us, or between me and a good friend, something ends up hitting the wall and sticking.
Today for example, I was working on my current novella, a twisted version of the Hans Christian Andersen story, String of Pearls. And until recently, it was just titled String of Pearls for convenience’s sake. However, once I started trying out different thematic titles, I hit a lot of misses before finally snagging that resonant one. What did I come up with? A Soul Solution–kind of an odd title, and a bit of a pun, but I liked how it thematically worked given character motivations, but also worked with the reversal of the character motivations at the end of the story.
So today, I consider my title-choosing a win!