In the way that Rose’s story was difficult to write, Reen’s was entirely different. I had already set up the world and the mystery surrounding the Barros family background in Rose’s book, but I needed to move the story forward.
While writing Rose, I had an idea of Reen in my head. She was standoffish and ran away from her problems. Whenever Rose tried to talk to her, the conversations were short and usually ended with Reen hanging up abruptly. Reen didn’t share much with her sister since she had run away after graduation years ago.
Now, here I was with a hint of a character who I had to flesh out and create her own story while pushing toward the fantasy element of their hidden past.
The only link that Reen still had to The Burrow was her family. After her departure, she cut ties with everyone in her life; including her high school sweetheart, Brody. So, with the failing health of the matriarch in the family, Reen trudged home, unprepared for what awaited her in The Burrow.
When I started drafting Reen’s story, I was still working on revisions for Rose. Switching between them wasn’t easy. These women are total opposites, and I wasn’t going to run into the saggy second book syndrome while rehashing Rose’s story in Reen’s book.
In comes the reverse outlining method. An author friend of mine, K.R. Conway, introduced me to this method at a NESCBWI workshop. It involves starting at the end of the book, or a scene further into the story that I was excited to write, and you move backward. So, I opened a notebook and placed my “exciting” scene at the top of the page. Then I went down the page, jotting down other events which would have to occur to get to that point. Before I knew it, I had outlined more scenes than I knew what to do with. This process opened my mind to inspiration and the story flowed quite easily from there.
As I said in Rose’s post, I have not found one method to complete more than one book. I’m always learning, but at least I have a toolbox filled with ways I can try if (but most likely when) I come to a roadblock in each of my stories.