I often read how the second novel is harder to write then the first one. Five started novel manuscripts later, I understand why. One manuscript I started, and love, will be pretty controversial for some. So I put it on hold. Another was my NaNoWriMo project for last year. My Dad died on 1 November, so I'm sure you can understand why that one was a "fail". Another was an old concept I tried to reignite the passion for, but I just wasn't "feeling" it. Then there was the novel version of a short story that I placed second in for a national YA short story competition. I love the short story, and think it would work as a novel. But couldn't get in the groove.
Then finally there is DESERTER, the sequel to SLEEPER. I had started work on it immediately after I finished the-novel-formerly-known-as-MISHCA, but put it aside. NOT because I wasn't feeling it, but because after all my internet cruising on writing I thought that it was poor form to have finished your second book in a series before being signed with an agent. It was something stupid I'd put together in my head about the agent and editor guiding your novels direction.
Then ny mentor and manuscript cooker, Angela Slatter, put me straight. I'm the writer. I wrote the first story. I set the direction.
A potential agent and editor shouldn't have to hold my hand. They will certainly have a high level of input, but it's still my imagination, my story.
Angela told me that my situation was not the norm. It's not common for agents to provide feedback with an offer to see a revised version (breaking my no blogging about queries rule AGAIN). My wonderful mentor expanded my ego by telling me that means they recognised I have talent. And the next step is to show them that I am professional and strategic with my writing by finishing a draft of the sequel. My day job includes planning and strategy, so I found this appealing.
My "home work" is to undertake a detailed plot of DESERTER. I am such a pantser that this is a big change, but a welcome one. The Plot Whisperer's YouTube series has been helpful in turning a pantser into a plotter. It's a 27 step series and well worth your time.
I guess one of the main I learnt from this advice from Angela is not to pay that much attention to the conflict advice that's floating out there in cyber space. Even if the advice is right for a part of the industry in one country, it's not going to be right for everyone. The best thing to do is to network (there's that word again), take courses with your local writers' centre and go to conferences. If you're really committed, find yourself a mentor and let them guide you through the ins and outs of the publishing world. Don't be a hapless noob, be an informed novice.
Now I'm off to do some more plotting. Mwahahahaha. Oh yeah, not that type of plotting.