Off the top of my head, I really can’t think of an author who’s kicked back, hoisted their champagne, and touted writing sequels as something that was ‘easy’. Mostly, writers love to complain in long, elegant, and very tortured paragraphs. Here’s what you need to know about writing sequels.
#1: It’s Easy
Or, at least, there are parts of it which are easy if you’ve done your job right in the first book. You should have an established world, established characters, and, very probably, an established threat. If you set up a Big Bad and couldn’t take him down in Book 1, then there is all the more tension that it will require another several hundred pages to knock him flat.
#2 It’s Hard
You’re having to write to match your previous style, characterizations, and established, well, everythings. I mean, what happens if you suddenly realize that you need this character’s eyes to be blue, or that the magic system has to allow for fire, or whatever? If you haven’t made allowance for the growth or continuity a series requires, it will just plain hurt.
#3 You get to take your time
You want to do a slow burn romance, eh? Well, pop that champagne now, buddy, because you have thousands of words to get them all the way to ‘not quite’. Need to deepen the world, the characters, or just give your prose a little elbow room: sequels are your friend.
#4 You have to take your time
So you know those super adorable characters who are in love with each other? Yeah, what’s taking them so long? If you have two books, and you don’t want to suffer from it, you have to be patient with the events you’re concocting out of forgotten typewriter keys and dusty ink or your creation will grow out of control and consume you whole.
#5 Momentum works both ways
If you’ve cruised through Book 1 and are flying through Book 2 because you can’t find out to see where this story takes you: you are experiencing the upside of writing a sequel. If, on the other hand, you reach 30K and stall… this is where I find myself currently dancing with Bill‘s Book #2: stalled. I’ve spent the last 80K working on building the world, deepening the magic system, and installing the characters, but I haven’t written much this month. I’d like to write, but I think a few things are holding me back: fear of getting to the end (and finding out it isn’t as brilliant as I thought it would be), a lack of planning (with all that pre-established stuff I have in Book 1, why would I need to plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan?), and the fact that I’ve been working like a madwoman at my actual paying job for the last month and a half.
I think that last one might have something to do with it. Yeah.
How about you? Do you think I covered the issues with writing sequels adequately, or did I miss something? Comment below, and let me know.