Saturday Snippet: Tying Up Loose Ends in the Next Book of a Series

On Saturdays, you can check out a snippet from my latest writing efforts.  All snippets are copyrighted.  These excerpts from my writing are first draft, unedited words, and may not appear in the final work.

I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, even though I started the series after Book 4 was released. In the true spirit of making up for lost time, I was one of the folks in line at midnight picking up my copy of each of the next books (between two teenagers and a grandfatherly sort, keeping me from feeling too geeky). The release of Book 5 coincided with my move to Houston, and it was nice to have an old friend available my first night alone in a new city keeping me from getting low. Book 6 was released just after I moved to Baton Rouge, and I’d had “Harry Potter reading day” marked on my calendar for weeks in anticipation of taking the whole Saturday to enjoy the story. My friends and I even attended a Harry Potter block party recreating Diagon Alley in New Orleans when Book 7 was coming out.

One of the most marvelous features of the series was how JK Rowling kept tying up little details from each of the previous books in the new ones. An innocuous detail from Book 1 received an explanation in each of the next books, from Sirius’s flying motorcycle to Harry’s Parselmouth to a brief reference to Neville’s parents that didn’t hit home till Book 5. I bet my fellow Harry Potter fans can provide many more of these little gems that made reading each book such fun—you never saw it coming, but in rereading the series, you find mention of something that turned out to be important later.

I’m certainly not claiming JK Rowling’s storytelling chops, but I do like revealing little secrets as I go along. This one is central to the whole series, and I first introduced it casually in Dark Empire.

“Del, what you did to defeat the crystal magic shouldn’t be possible,” Miran said. “Though, make no mistake, I am grateful,” he added softly, reaching for her hand and sending a quick magical probe through her.


Del looked at him, her eyes momentarily reflecting the mauve of his magic, and squeezed his hand, silently reassuring him that she was whole. She understood his concern and pushed a probe of her own through their clasped hands. Del cared less than Miran did whether their companions saw the glow of their magics and recognized their purpose, but she followed his lead in keeping their exchange private. “Better they take my magic than yours. I just raised a shield between you and the crystals.”


“Your brother speaks truly,” Ruyinaar agreed. “By rights they should have seized your magic in addition to his. Those crystals seek any and all magic.”


Del shook her head, remembering the way the ice blue crystals spread their reach all over her, probing for any weakness to exploit. “They don’t like mine,” she muttered. “In the camp, the magnetic crystals would try to smother me, yet in the same instant repelled me.” She shuddered and her voice dropped to a whisper as she lowered her eyes to stare at a knot in the wooden plank at her feet. “I thought certainly once they found blood it would be over, but their grasping recoiled further. I can’t explain it.”


Del could almost feel the angry heat in Tolemius’s eyes, but she didn’t raise her gaze to meet his. Similarly, she didn’t want to see the anguish her words brought her brother, who had gasped at her revelation.


“I will study this matter, my lady,” Ruyinaar promised. “But I must make haste to Luden with some clever tale for the Emperor.” Before he could take his leave, Miran interrupted him.


“I know why those crystals didn’t want your magic,” Miran said grimly.


What’s your favorite Harry Potter revelation?

Saturday Snippet: Still Deciding Whether to Add Another Character

On Saturdays or Sundays, you can check out a snippet from my latest writing efforts.  All snippets are copyrighted.  These excerpts from my writing are first draft, unedited words, and may not appear in the final work.

A brief and rather censored excerpt from Book 2 (still untitled) where I’m still debating whether to introduce a permanent character. I’m afraid this character’s purpose will be too much telling and not enough showing, but I can also argue for this character furthering the plot quite effectively. Perhaps it’s time to make a pro/con chart to help with my decision.

“She smells of a magic known to us. We’ve tracked you since you stepped onto the path. How came you by this otherworldly magic?”


Del eyed the [character] doubtfully. “I bear but little magic, and my stores of that are sadly depleted.”


[spoiler deleted] “Your blood reeks of magic, and not the weak human sort. This magic consumes yours, gorges upon it. How can you not sense it?”

I’ve used the list method before to help decide whether to keep another character (GONE) because I couldn’t find a way to keep the character’s story arc alive through the entire book. A character without a solid reason to be in the story should be eliminated, especially in stories with large casts. Wherever possible I try to reuse the few soldiers from Del’s company that I’ve already named, even though I theoretically have 80 of them from which to choose. Imagine the confusion I could create!

A brilliant series I was reading (well, it was brilliant until the last awful book) did a sad job building character arcs for secondary characters, and it left me disappointed, so I’ll not tell you the title of the series here.

Is there a book you’ve read with a critical secondary character that you really loved? Two examples that immediately come to mind are Templeton the rat from Charlotte’s Web and Harriet from Emma. Both characters were secondary but still essential to the plot.