I had a general plan for the Espionage sequel. I had a few basic plot points I needed to hit, some snippets from throughout the book, and an ending. It was going to be a middle grade in the vein of the first book, about the same length, political, a story that was similar, but different.
And then the book said "Nope."
I'm still following the general storyline I originally had, but it had SOOOOO many gaps I had to fill in as I went along. But more than that. It just can't be the fun, middle grade book the first one was. It's its own book.
It's far more complex.
Espionage had a very basic, straightforward storyline. It was coherent in my head from the start. With this sequel (which still remains nameless, and I may not even go with a one-word "e" title), I've got plot threads everywhere. I've got Vannie's personal story of being forced into a marriage with Kermit when she's very much in love with Kyle. I've got the "action" side of the story where villagers are disappearing and the young people suspect Stipland's interim (Gordan Holbrook) is involved. I've got Flanna Leland whose father, fiance, and future father-in-law were all killed in a freak accident leaving Leland with no representation. There's Violet Wyland who was forced to marry the crooked Edward when she was in love with Esmond Fairfax. I've got a thread involving Edmund Herb which I haven't yet found the space to deal with but very much want to. I've also got an inkling that Holbrook may have been involved in Sir Stipland's death. That's something I didn't come up with until part way through writing.
I thought I could just write a simple book, but as I write, the complexity tries to force itself in. It's going to take another draft or more to let it, but if I don't--if I keep it to a 30,000 word middle grade like the first one--it'll fall so far short of its potential.
There are a lot more characters.
Espionage had a small cast, which was fabulous because it gave me a break from the Time Captives. The sequel simply can't. Kermit and Rosie are far more central to the plot than in the first book, and Walter Stipland and Callie Holbrook are pivotal characters, making up the main six with Kyle and Vannie. I haven't had room to deal with Kate--who now has a boyfriend whom Vannie rather resents. I want to delve into Flanna, but I haven't had room. I'd like to deal with Violet, but again, haven't had the room. Captain Herb figures in the story, and once I find the place, I want to explore his son Edmund. Sir Cumberland has a role to play that I don't want to stay "off screen."
And I've come to the conclusion that using primarily Vannie POV with an occasional bit of Kyle just isn't enough. I'm not figuring out who Walter and Callie are very well without delving into their heads. Kermit's POV, I don't think should be relegated to bonus scenes. And there are too many important plot elements Vannie isn't privy to. I still hope to keep Vannie in 1st person, but as I write, I find I need a more comprehensive view of things to do this story justice.
Vannie Cumberland is no Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is what it is. I had originally intended to keep the romance very Little House for the sake of keeping it a middle grade book. Very sweet and innocent and something you would have no qualms reading to a four-year-old. But...that's not working.
Fact is, Vannie is very much in love with Kyle Roland and he with her, and it's becoming more of a (clean) YA romance. Something a lot more along the lines of Ilyon, Rizkaland, and DragonKeeper than Little House. Considering Vannie's personality, it's just not realistic otherwise. I don't want it to feel like a stretch for Vannie and Kyle to be in love, because it's not. I have more trouble holding them back than making them act like they love each other.
I want this story brought to its full potential, which isn't easy when you're trying to make it something that it's not. But as I've plantsed my way through this book (something in between plotting and pantsing), I've discovered the sort of story it wants to be. And I may have to give up my original vision of what it was in order to make it what it needs to be.
How do you feel about the sequel to Espionage being more YA? What do you think of the different plot threads I've discovered?