Writing a sequel is filled with joy, and also difficulties. I wanted to reflect upon and explore that experience today.
Writing a sequel was a pain at moments, but I’m glad I did it. It interests me that the sequel process must be different for everyone who undertakes it. Some people introduce more new characters than others. Sometimes the action picks up right where the previous novel left off. There can be a greater or lesser variation in tone from one installment to another…. One of the most fascinating things I’ve noticed since starting my blog is that writers write so differently from one another! Everyone’s process is unique.
With a promo going on for “The Magic Council,” the second book in my Herezoth trilogy, that novel is on my mind. In particular, I’m remembering how daunting it was at moments to write that part of the series, because the concept of a sequel brings all kinds of challenges.
“The Magic Council” takes place fifteen years or so after “The Crimson League,” so it doesn’t continue the action of that novel. It’s a new story entirely, but it does involve many repeat players, and events in the first story need referencing from time to time. While the story can make sense without the first one, I knew a number of those reading it would be familiar with the first one. Some of my biggest struggles, struggles involved in any sequel:
- BALANCE IN REFERENCING THE PREQUEL. Some people won’t have read the first installment. Others will need reminders of what happened and who was involved. It’s a real balancing act to give enough information about previous events so that the story makes sense, but not so much info that you frustrate and bore people who remember the first novel well. I relied heavily on my beta readers for this. (That’s important: you as the author will remember the first novel MUCH better than you can expect others to. Beta readers are more indicative of your readers and what things they’ll take with them.)
- GROWING WITH THE CHARACTERS. Zacry Porteg is eleven in “The Crimson League.” Now he’s twenty-six. That’s a huge jump, and a huge gap of time. It was difficult–but very, very rewarding–to consider how he would have grown/matured, and which aspects of his personality would still be part of him. What events in his life to happen in those “lost” years would have shaped him? I had so much fun seeing my characters change but at the same time, remain true to themselves. It was a joy I can’t even describe. As I don’t have kids, I guess this is the closest thing I have to watching a child grow up. Of course, many a sequel follows on the heels on its predecessor, but even in that case, you’ll need character development and growth coming through.
- WRITING A FULL STORY WITH MORE POTENTIAL FOR A “NEW CHAPTER.” It’s not the easiest thing to write a story that’s complete in itself, but also leaves the possibility of a next story to follow, one independent of and yet connected to the one that came before. Since I wanted to write a trilogy, I had to keep in mind that I wanted loose edges and curiosity, but not to the point I had a cliffhanger on any kind on my hands. (I don’t like cliffhangers.)
Well, that’s all I can think to say…. Have you written a sequel? Considered it? Are you determined not to touch one, ever, in your writing career? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Like I mentioned above, I have a sale and free promotion going on right now. The first novel in my trilogy, The Crimson League, is only 99 cents through January 11th. The second novel, The Magic Council, is FREE until January 11th. I invite you to check them out, if fantasy is your thing.