……for the sequel to Novel Now Finished. This is new territory for me, because I’ve never actually written a true sequel before. I’ve written many stories that developed into multiple novels (written or in summary form), but never upon completing a manuscript. I know who’s returning, who’s new to the story and I even have a story to go with the idea.
I’d known from the start that this would be a five-book arc – I didn’t want to write more than that involving these characters. Part of that is because of my own experiences in reading several different series – by the time I get to book six, I’m bored and wishing the whole thing had been wrapped up in the previous book. This is not the fault of the writer – I’ve read many authors whose series spanned multiple titles and have always enjoyed them. But lately, my attention span has petered out at book five and I’d rather leave my audience wanting more than losing their interest (this is also an old theater saying).
While writing Novel Now Finished, I had no idea of how I was going to carry this character into another book, let alone four more. I don’t usually plan my stories out to the tiniest detail nor do I use an outline – I tried the outline once and found it to be more of a hindrance than in any way helpful.  I was a little worried about how I was going to stretch this character’s story out beyond this one novel, regardless of how much I enjoyed her world.
The idea came to me while I was rearranging a snippet in Novel Now Finished – a simple image of the character standing at the entrance of a seldom used road. Suddenly, I had an idea of what the story would be, of what the mystery would entail and who was going to be involved. I also knew that there would be some character dynamics at play that I hadn’t tried before, so I’m curious to see how that works out.
And a few days ago, I wrote the first page of what’s to eventually become the sequel to Novel Now finished.
The character showed me what’s going to happen next in her story. Now all I have to do is pay attention and write it.
 I’m not suggesting that outlining or planning out a story to the smallest detail is wrong in general, just wrong for me, specifically. If it works for you, then by all means, keep doing it.