When I was drafting the manuscript of my latest novel, I worked a little with Harold Underdown, who advised me to give the book a more epic feel. I understood what he meant, and I could see the story getting there, but at the time, my little story was limping along. Getting to epic wasn’t in the foreseable future. An epic is not something you can make happen with a simple stroke of a pen. Several hundred thousand strokes, maybe.
However, now that it’s finished and has been sent to my agent and I’ve started to think about the sequel, I realize that the “book 1” manuscript is missing a lot of things that I need for “book 2.” And those are the kinds of things that would make it epic.
I don’t want to pull the manuscript from consideration. But going forward, I’m going to make notes for changes and get started on the sequel. The “book 1” edits aren’t going to be huge or plot-shattering, but since the book isn’t final, they can be made later.
I’ll let my agent, or an acquiring editor know how I want to revise as we work toward publication. And if the book doesn’t get sold, I’ll make the changes on my own as I work on the sequel. Maybe I can sell the stories as a package sometime later. (I understand that that’s unlikely, but you nevs know.)
I guess the lesson here is that as soon as you start thinking that your book has the potential to be a sequel, you need to let your mind go to the furthest reach of your story, or else you might short-change yourself with a less-than-adequate original.