The book I'm writing now is the hardest book I've ever written. Honestly. And I think that comes down to one thing:
This is the first sequel I've ever written.
Naively, I assumed that because it was a sequel, it would be so much easier than the first book. After all, I already had most of the characters, right? I've done most of the world-building and the research. I've got the voice and the style. I don't, in general, find plotting as difficult as other parts of writing.
It should be easy.
But it's not.
There are a bunch of things I hadn't expected.
Things like lack of freedom with the world, story, and characters that I didn't face in the first book. These people and places are pretty much fixed. This time around, I'm not just making stuff up. It has to be consistent. The first story had a particular structure, and I can't do the next one in a completely different way if I want it to fit.
Things like the knowledge that some people will have read the first book and some won't. And among those that have read the first book, some will remember it and some will scarcely remember anything. And I still need to make the story work for all of these.
Things like the fact that, in the first books, most of the characters had pretty complete personal arcs, but now I need them to have new arcs all over again.
I was a pretty big fan of the TV show Revenge
. I really loved the first season. But then I watched the first episode of the second season, and I nearly didn't watch anymore. They had done a great job of tying almost everything up in the first season, and then they had to drag it all back up and get going again. In the end, I watched the second episode of season two, and I'm glad I did, because they pulled it back together and mostly succeeded. But it was a lesson, too.
The same was true for the show Alias
. I don't know this for sure, but I was pretty certain that the writers had intended to end the show at the end of season 4. But then there was a season 5, and they had to get it all going again. They did a good job, but I bet it wasn't easy.
(And, I bet any season pros are laughing at me for this, because you've been there before. Still, pity poor me...)