Hello there writers and goodbye to August! This month our theme was “Writing a Sequel.”
First thing’s first, while a sequel is the continuation of the journey with a character or characters, it shouldn’t be a rehash of the prior book (or books). Heck, don’t even start where the last book ended.
Like with book one, stakes are important, make the stakes in book two just as amazing (or even more amazing!) than in book one, and make sure they aren’t the same. They can be similar, but not the same.
Hooks still matter in sequels, maybe even more. Sure you had to hook your reader with the first chapter in book one, but you’ve got to do it again, and likely even better, as your readers are eager to visit your characters again.
Further develop your main character(s) and any side characters that are pertinent to book two. Don’t stagnate, or worse, undo growth for the sake of avoiding new growth. Characters should be ever evolving, just like real people.
Bring in some new characters! Not only will it help with showing how book one characters have changed (i.e. how they interact now with a character vs. how they would have in book one), it can also be a whole lot of fun to meet someone new.
Do your best not to summarize all of book one for new readers or for readers who’ve been away a while. Do quick reminders when they are pertinent to this story.
Consider what your readers are going to expect will happen in book two (based on book one) and then change it up! Do the opposite, subvert those expectations and revel in it.
Make sure you actually have enough story to write a sequel—not all stories need one. Also know why you’re writing one—is it just because you don’t want to say goodbye to a beloved character or is it because you’ve got more story to tell?
In sum, once you know you’ve got the story for a second book, set out to make it a new and exciting experience for readers. Toss in new characters and stakes. Subvert all those expectations. And don’t forget to have fun with it yourself!
Thanks for stopping by for this month’s tips and in September we’ll be covering Query Tips and Tricks. Keep on writing, writerly folks, the world needs your words!