Writing a sequel to my first book, Nick Newton Is Not a Genius, came with new challenges, such as…
- Remembering all the facts about my first book to make sure the world and its characters stay consistent. Sure, it’s one thing to remember your characters’ names, but what about details like the layout of a building or character quirks like how the protagonist feels about clowns? I have a new respect for large franchises whose stories span movies, video games, and books across decades of time. Yes, you can probably still find inconsistencies, but the fact that the franchise is even remotely coherent is no small feat.
- Making the second book accessible to readers who might not have read the first one. Ideally, a book series can be read out of order and still be enjoyed. I’ve experienced series, whether books or video games, out of their intended order. Sometimes it’s just a matter of what I happen to find at the used bookstore or video game store. To make each volume of a series stand on its own, as a writer I need to make sure I fill in the gaps, but I also want to avoid spoiling the previous book. It’s a delicate balance.
- Resisting the temptation to be influenced by the success or lack of success from my previous book. In at least a couple of popular series, I’ve felt like the writing got sloppier and less concise as the series progressed. Are the authors saying more now that they know the audience is willing to listen? Is the editing no longer as tight because of deadline pressures to get the next book out? In the future, I would like to look back on my publications and see that I’ve improved as a writer and storyteller…even if sales haven’t been as high as I would want.
- Balancing the old and the new. A new book will likely provide the opportunity to introduce new characters and new settings. You should probably take these opportunities so you can keep the story interesting. However, you don’t want to neglect the characters from your previous storylines, nor do you want to create character overload. In my second book, I found myself approaching too many characters. In subsequent books, I may have to hone in on only a few to prevent using too many characters at once.
- Leaving room for another book to continue the series. Don’t paint yourself in a corner. If you know you want to write another book in the series, you may want to leave some small loose ends hanging so you have something to latch back onto and resolve in a subsequent volume.
I’m working on my second book to be published, but I’m still a new author. If you have tips on writing sequels, I’d be interested to hear them in the comments! Thank you!