Developing a new story in a series

I’m getting ready to write the third book in the Quinn Larson series and unlike some writers I only have a bit of an idea what will happen in each story. I do know the bigger story, but not the details. So I pretty much start from scratch each time.

So where do I start?

small cover for Imperative the first book in the Quinn Larson Quests

I usually start by thinking about my characters, the hero – Quinn – and the Villain and how they get in each others way to entertain you.

There are lots of other characters, I hope you love them all, but the key to the story is how the two main characters conflict.

This book has been flitting around my brain for a while and I couldn’t quite pin down what was going to happen.

How did I overcome it?

The good news is anyone can find a way to overcome a block. I found help in the way I usually do, I talked it out with writer buddies.

cover of Compulsion, book two of the Quinn Larson Series

Tonight I tossed the problem to my buddies in our Waves Coffee write in. I told them my process, my problem and then we tossed around ideas until I had the epiphanies that I needed.

Why is this important?

I think a book is a collaboration of ideas. Even when I have a book worked out in my mind, asking writers for input always gives me a deeper understanding or a new twist on the idea.

I do this at all stages of the book. When I think the first draft is complete, I ask for input on the story. I need to know if there’s anything missing – usually setting – or if I’ve padded something.  I get readers to give me feedback before I do the final polish. And I listen to reviews after the book is published.

Listening to reviews helps me craft better stories in the future. So, I value every review I get, good or bad.