Lately, I’ve been working on my second novel, and I can’t help but to be amazed at how different it is from my previous one, in so many ways.
The reason I’m so staggered by this fact, is that when I first began it (maybe two months ago), my number one concern was making sure it didn’t feel like a mirror image of my first novel. Both are set in San Francisco, and both are written by yours truly, and in a lot of ways, my “writer voice” is quite similar to my actual voice, hence the concern.
This is a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot, as this is only my second large-scale fiction project. Of course, every narrator will sound different, and every character will sound different. But at the same time, all these different “people” are coming out of the same writer. So the question I’ve been pondering is, how much can similarities between voices be attributed to the writer’s style, and at what point do such similarities become a crutch? I suppose this is a question only a beta reader can answer; I think writers are too involved in their own work to truly be able to spot that kind of nuance objectively.
I shouldn’t have been worried about the two novels feeling too similar, though. Now that I’ve really started to dig into it, this new one feels completely different. Both are about people trying to figure their lives out, (isn’t every novel?) but the previous one had more lighthearted moments, whereas this contains more of a sense of urgency, as well as a loosely autobiographical element. (The protagonist isn’t me, but she’s strongly based on a past version of myself, during a time of my life I’m happy to have left behind!) Likewise, in Three Things, the magical element was more overt, where as in The Five Sophies (working title), the supernatural element is more mysterious, and based in time travel.
Not only does it feel different in the narration and story, but also in the way it’s being written. I’ve discussed my thoughts before on this blog, regarding planning your plot versus “winging it”. Three Things was a combination of the two, but, especially in the beginning, I did rely heavily on mapping out every important plot point, both using the three act structure format, as well as the Hero’s Journey.
In The Five Sophies, I have an extremely vague idea of where it’s going, and an even more vague idea of how it will end. I’ve sat down to plot it all out several times, and every time, I draw a complete blank. So how do I get around this problem? I don’t. I’ve decided to accept that the story is taking me on a journey, and I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. And that’s exciting. Essentially, it’s like I get to just watch it unfold, and be surprised. It feels spontaneous, without feeling aimless. It feels like a fresh way to write, for me. I’m having fun on this adventure, and once I finish it, I believe that feeling will translate to the reader’s experience. Let’s hope so, anyway! ❤