Sinking in the Sequel

Sinking in the Sequel

Sinking in the Sequel

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 02:05 PM PDT

Show of hands; how many of you have written or are writing a sequel to one of your stories? Are you finding it difficult? Did you find it difficult? I'm neck deep in my sequel at the moment and, while I can't say it is difficult, I can say that it is a more labor intensive experience compared to the first book. I completely understand now why we always hear "the second book or movie is never as good as the first or the last." I mean, think about it, we are picking up where we stopped in book one only to leave many unanswered questions to wrap up in book three (unless your series is longer than three books). What is it that sets that second book apart from the first and the future stories so it can shine as it should?

Before we get into that I would like to share a lesson learned from my writing experience. If you are planning to write or writing a sequel it is of the utmost importance that you keep your notes from the first story. Why? This will make it easy on you when you have story-lines and characters that cross over from book one to book two. Oh there are times when I really wish I thought of this earlier but that is now water under the bridge.

As I said, a good portion of your story will cross over but we  need to generate a new plot or a meaningful expansion to the original plot so the story can carry itself from begin to end. This sounds easy but it can be difficult. To add to the equation we need to include new elements to the story in the form of characters, settings, motivations, and things of that nature but here is the complex part. The new portions of your story in book two must be able to connect with the old parts of your story from book one in order to maintain the flow and structure of the overall plot. Yes, that was a mouthful.

I think the most important questions to keep in mind when writing a sequel is - how and why. For example:

  •  We introduce new characters in our sequel. Why? How do they connect and interact with the characters from book one?
  • We unveil a new motive for the antagonist, Why? How does that new motive fit into the overall plot and propel it through the story?
  • We remove a character that was in the first book. Why? How will that impact future scenes?
These are a few examples but I believe you see the big picture. A sequel requires the same thought process as a first novel does but it is more focused, intense and continual. For instance, in the first story if something doesn't fit or make sense or just doesn't work we can go back and remove it or rewrite it. If we run into the same problem in a sequel we have to think about the change before we make it. Will it make sense and match up with what we wrote in the first novel? Are we contradicting what we wrote before? Yes, we have to keep track of this because readers will pick up on it if we miss it. Actually, I bet we have all found it, at least once, when reading a series or two.

As I said before, it is not difficult to write a sequel; it takes a little more thought and time. Notes really help and so does patience. Is it worthwhile to write a sequel? I believe it is because it demands that we intensify our focus and anything that does that can only help; even if you never plan to actually write sequels except for that one time. We know that writing is a never ending learning experience and this is but another lesson.

What has been your experience with writing a sequel?

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