Friday, February 6, 2015

Got Any Advice for Writing a Sequel?


Though I’m still tackling revisions in the last few chapters of my current novel, ideas for a sequel are pushing and shoving in my head. So I’ll be facing the dilemma of deciding how much background might need carried over from Book I, and briefly mentioned in Book II. And just so you know, the ideas bouncing in my head will be picking up the story right from where it left off (one day later), even though the first book did come to a nice conclusion in the end. I’ve read a few that didn’t, and I hated them. (Never read the author’s work again, either.)

I can’t have an info dump, but some details will need repeated for clarity.

I want the second book to stand as a story on its own, as well as a continuation of the first story. I surely don’t want a summary of everything that happened in the first book dumped into an “I remember” scene in the second book. So it’s off to the drawing board for me. My drawing board? Good examples written by great writers. I’m wondering if any of you have some pointers or suggestions of first and second books (no vampires or undead murderers) by super good authors that I could read, ones where the story in the first book continue in the second. Even a how-to book on writing a sequel or trilogy would come in handy, if it’s actually a good one.

I don’t outline. I’m more of a panster. Sometimes I get an idea and run with it, but I do toss it over in my mind again and again when I’m not at the computer. I think ahead to possible problems, ponder solutions, and put a lot of faith in the characters leading the way for me, but I still don’t think I can get there without good examples.  

So, what do you suggest?

 

34 comments:

  1. I'm a panster as well. Sequels are tough for how much you should repeat in the second and third and so on. But you've got the perfect idea. Go and read what others have done and see what works for you! :)

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    1. Yep, it's always the best way to learn for me. :-)

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  2. Well I have always loved the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula LeGuin and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Miss Peregrine's Home for Unusual Children's second book came out last year, Hollow City, which picked up where the first left off and I can't wait for the 3rd book. And the His Dark Materials Trilogy, which first and second book were really good but I felt the 3rd was a bit convoluted.

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  3. Well, it may be obvious, but JK Rowling sure knew how to do it right.

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    1. I was thinking about that. I read the first one, but have to admit that's as far as I got. maybe time to rethink that.

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  4. Weave in some backstory when it's absolutely necessary. Not in the opening pages, but when you arrive to a character whose history we have to know or be reminded about -- and only drops of backstory at a time. One of the problems I've seen with info dump is that we get too much too soon. The right balance will come to you, I'm sure. Not all backstory is bad -- as someone said: no matter where you start the story, there was something that happened before and the reader needs to know about it.

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    1. Great advice, Silvia. Thanks. I've had company the last three days and am now about to leave for three days, so won't be back to chat more until then. Have a good week.

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  5. I always weave things in when they need to be weaved in. Until they do, I don't.

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  6. I'm very much a plotter, so I'm not sure how much help I'll be, haha. But I'd say just sprinkle in callbacks to the first book gradually, whenever anything in the sequel would trigger a memory like that...

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    1. That sounds like a good idea. It would flow naturally then, rather than forced.

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  7. The Earth's Children series comes to mind. Each of the 6 books can stand alone, but work in alluding to what happened before without being heavy handed about it.

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    1. Thank you so much. I'll check them out. :-)

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  8. I wish I could help but I am of no use. I have a feeling if you let it go, sort of speak, the idea will come to you. There is The Hobbit that stands alone but continued on in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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    1. Yeah, I was thinking of those. Not feeling like reading quite so thick a book, but might do it anyway. :-)

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  9. Well, Deb, I wrote a story, then went back and wrote a prequel. I always was a little backward.

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  10. I definitely feel your pain! Holly Lisle (primarily a sci fi and fantasy author) has a whole series of online writing courses, including one called How to Write a Series. It's not free, but it's worth every dime (IMO). Here's a link: http://howtothinksideways.com/shop/how-to-write-a-series-master-the-art-of-sequential-fiction/ Good luck!

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    1. Yeah, I subscribe to her newsletter. Maybe I'll look up her class on that, but a series doesn't necessarily always have the same plot ongoing. Just the same characters in a new situation, I think. Like The Babysitters Club. I might be wrong on that.

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  11. Looks like you have some useful comments here Debi - wish I could offer a helpful word or 2 but I can't! :(

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  12. My sequel picks up the week after the first book ends, and I did struggle a little with how to recap the events of the first book without an info dump. I had to figure -- why would the characters be discussing it? It just happened for them!

    I ended up sprinkling the reminders over the first several chapters. It didn't get dumped in one place. It also helped that there was a new character POV -- coming from a perspective adversarial to my main characters -- who was trying to put together what happened to those characters in the first book. As he discovered figured it out, the reader got reminders.

    Hope that helps!

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    1. Well that seems like a good way to go. Hmmm.

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  13. I think sequels are done much better than they used to be. From a reader's perspective, I like it when they're not too similar to the original.

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    1. Yes, I agree on that wholeheartedly. :-)

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  14. Like so many have said, only mention it when you need to. Though if you're starting the day after, you may need stuff up front, depending on how the new story meets the previous--is it a continuation, or just another story with the same characters?

    I'm playing with a sequel, but the two MCs of the second book are new, and the MCs from the first book are secondary, so . . . Still, I'm writing it as if it were a stand alone book, with only a little bit of background thrown in as necessary.

    Galen Beckett's The Magicians and Mrs. Quent followed by The House on Durrow Street is a nice example, I think. And Ben Aaronovitch's Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho as well.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I will definitely check them out. :-)

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  15. I'm a pantser, but I don't have a suggestion. :( I'm working on my sequel now, and at the moment I've got my main character ranting to his dead father figure about how he wasn't supposed to die in the previous book. He's pretty much monologuing it until I figure out a better way. :)

    I wish you great success!

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    1. Thanks, Loni! I need all the well wishes I can get.

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  16. I re-read my first book, made specific notes in the order of the events or characters, then as I was writing the sequel I had a quick reference to the what happened and when in book one. My editor suggested I use Anne McCaffery (Pern Books) technique and put a quick prologue in to create a bridge between the two books. I used a character to do that prologue. That's all I have. Good luck,

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  17. I'm writing a trilogy of mystery stories. The first book is with an editor finally. Meanwhile, I used the NaNo to write the next two books. They still have to be completed, but are almost there. The two main charcters from my first book are in books two and three, but in different circumstances. The books will be able to stand alone too, I hope.

    As far as backstory in the next books, I only throw in a little if the circumstances come up and my characters are thinking back to an earlier time, or someone else is asking them about something that happened earlier. These are very short, at times only a few words, and I don't use many in the entire book.

    I'm a pantster too and never use an outline upfront, only character sketches and I have a general idea of what will happen, but I let my charracters guide me.

    Good luck. I know you can do it.

    Are you doing the A to Z this year?

    Sunni

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    1. No, I'm not joining the A-to-Z this year – not enough time, too many obligations. I have been working on my SQL a little, and I haven't had to add too much back story at all. So I guess I'm doing it the way you suggest – little doses only if needed. It's an entirely new plot, so as it turns out, not much of the previous book is essential for understanding this one. Not yet anyway, but I'm only a few chapters into it.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's a comfort.

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