Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Of Second Novels


For anyone who's missed it, there's a really interesting article in Times 2 today about the difficulty of writing second novels, the novelists who failed to equal the success of their first (very successful) book (Donna Tartt's Little Friend, for one), and those who only ever wrote one novel (Harper Lee's Catcher in the Rye).

7 comments:

Tim Stretton said...

I can't find the article in the online version, Frances, but I have evolved my own strategy to deal with the problem -

Write an unsuccessful first novel and ensure that everyone's subsequent expectations are pitched accordingly...

Frances said...

Sorry about that, Tim. What it partly boils down to is that most people have been 'writing' their first novel all their lives (in their heads) and so while it may have taken a couple of years actually to write it, the material is all there. The second one has to be written, as it were, from scratch. Actually, I think my own second novel was my first novel - I put so much of my own life into it - and my third my second. Hence the... well, I won't go on about my little disaster, but you get the idea! The article was largely apropos the huge advance for the second novel by the writer of The Time Traveller's Wife (am I the only MNWer who didn't enjoy this novel?.

Doug Worgul said...

This is all way relevant to me at this specific time in my life, inasmuch as I'm about five chapters into my second. I like the story and the book quite a bit, but it's all coming much slower than the first (partly for reasons having more to with day jobs and children, than with creative impediments), and I'm anxious. Which I was not the first time.

drw

Aliya Whiteley said...

Frances, I didn't like The Time Traveller's Wife. I felt extremely annoyed that the woman in it had to life her live to a set pattern, waiting for this guy to turn up. How horrible to be the boring one in the relationship who doesn't get to travel through time. Not romantic in the least.

I don't usually express this opinion because I get told that I missed the point. Maybe I was having a bad day that involved waited for someone to turn up somewhere. Sounds feasible.

Tim Stretton said...

Godot, perhaps?
;-)

(Now there's a work of literature *I* didn't like!)

Matt Curran said...

Read the Times article too, and it was really interesting. With me, I reckon like Frances my nemesis will be the third book. I won't go into too much detail, but my third book that might get published, might actually be the fifth book I had planned. The Black Hours is still with the editor - but it's not a Secret War book and so has caused problems. My planned third Secret War book has also been binned because it didn't sound enough like a Secret War book, so now we're on to structuring the chapters for The Fortress of Black Glass which I didn’t expect to do until the summer of 2010.
Maybe my third attempt at my third book will succeed!

Who says writing gets easier when you're published?!!

Frances said...

You're right, Matt. I think it gets much harder, because of your own (and other people's)expectations. But hang in there. Third attempt at third book has to be lucky! (I'm spending too much time on the blog because I'm avoiding getting down to the first attempt at the fourth book...)