We have a guest post today with Samantha Durante as she travels the blogosphere on her SHUDDER blog tour. Help me in welcoming Samantha to Cocktails and Books.
Death to the Dreaded Second Book Syndrome by Samantha Durante, author of the Stitch Trilogy
Middle books in a trilogy have gotten a bad rap, particularly in YA. They’re often known to be bland filler, simply a bridge between the first and last books in the series, where not much of anything happens and the characters just kind of, well, stagnate, whittling away the hours while they (and the readers…) wait (im)patiently for Book 3 to come along. Welcome to the dreaded Second Book Syndrome.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s a simple 3-step program for breaking through this debilitating disease and crafting a middle book that shines:
1. Focus on pacing. High tension, high action, high excitement – a solid middle book should always have some stimulating event happening or new information being revealed, and not just once, but continuously, throughout the entire book.
In Shudder, I strove to accomplish this using a combination of Alessa and Isaac’s action-packed storyline along with the incorporation of some new points of view. While Isaac and Alessa’s narrative had most of the action, their downtime was always used for world building or character development (see #2 below), and the other POVs brought in chilling new information to provide readers with a fuller sense of the plot and give them something to think about – how this society came about, who certain characters really are, what new revelations might be a lie and which are not. With all of this going on, the reader has plenty to keep their mind occupied and the story moves along at a pleasant clip.
2. Development, development, development. Just because it’s a middle book doesn’t mean things can come to a standstill. There always needs to be development, both in the characters and the plot.
Shudder focuses mainly on Alessa and Isaac’s character development, showing new facets of their personalities and their relationship with each other, and most importantly, growth – both from how they were in Book 1 and over the course of Book 2. I also progressed the plot by setting the main characters on a quest to accomplish a major feat they will need to challenge their enemies in Book 3 (finding a base for the resistance), but also added new depth to the storyline by bringing in new conflicts (Alessa’s unresolved feelings for Joe, the mysterious creatures stalking her and Isaac, some questionable motivations from Lizzie, and the dilemma of how to stop the virus from killing off Paragon’s children).
3. End with a bang. After all, there’s still one more book left! The second book in a trilogy had better be satisfying in its own right, but should still leave some loose ends to set the stage for what’s to come in Book 3.
In the Stitch Trilogy, Alessa and Isaac’s discovery of the rebel base and rescue of missing characters provides closure to the key plot components of Book 2 – but remember all those secondary conflicts we introduced in #2 above? Those subplots provide just enough information in Book 2 to get the reader guessing as to what could go down in Book 3. And of course, a small cliffhanger at the very end never hurts…
There you have it – a straightforward 3-step program to put Second Book Syndrome down, once and for all. Stay strong, readers and friends. We can win this fight!
It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.
Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.
And then there are the visions.
The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…
The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.
Shudder Purchase Links
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Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa’s body screams at her to run… but yet she’s powerless to move.
Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.
Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…
The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.
Stitch Purchase Links
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Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.
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Twitter: @SamanthaDurante | Hashtag suggestions: #Stitch, #StitchTrilogy, #Shudder