Thursday, July 10, 2014

CONvergence Notes: The Pitfalls of Writing a Sequel

We attended CONvergence 2014 this last weekend and I went to one of the panels about the issues you might run into while writing a sequel.  So I've assembled them below for any one to use.  This isn't meant to be a master list, just notes that I took which I thought were important and might be of use to others.

When you're writing your sequel, things to remember:

  • The biggest thing to remember is to have a continuity of feeling between Book 1 and Book 2.  Basically what you captured in book 1 has to be recaptured in books 2, or at least used so you don't waste that energy. 
  • You have to keep menace and dispute running, even though the reader knows this is a series and is fairly certain the main character will live through this book
  • Make sure the book is not just one big battle, no one wants to read that.  Continue to define your characters and show them growing.  Show how this fight affects the other characters and don't set yourself up for this trap through multiple sequels which will all end in a giant war. 
  • Always strive to write a story better then your first one. 
  • Take into account how much your writing style has changed since the first book.  Be aware of this. 
  • End your story as a complete story.  You can leave hints for your next book, but each book should be a complete story otherwise readers can feel cheated. 
  •  Remember to fill in the holes. - This means two things!  1. You have to fill in the plot holes overall that you may have left from the first book.  Fill in the mythology and expand upon it. 2. Remember to fill in the reader!  It may have been a while since they read the first book and they're going to need some reminding of what happened - but DON'T hit them over the head with summary, do it gradually as needed. 

Sequels and Publishers:

  • Publishers want to build a business relationship, ultimately they want to work with you.  Keep this in mind when submitting sequels and getting feedback. 
  • Keep in mind that publishers want readers to be able to come into your world in the second or third book with no former knowledge.  Then they'll go back and search for the first book.  A reader should be able to enter your story at any time without having to hunt for the first story right away.  Multiple points of entry mean multiple readers. 
  • Be aware that you can be typecast as an author.  AKA: J.K. Rowling only writes Harry Potter, Stephen King only writes Horror, this is hard to break out of but not impossible
  • You don't have to write a series to be famous, but it is harder to get well known without it.  With a series you have a character that the reader can return to and love, whereas with standalone characters you have to reinvent yourself each time and re-earn the reader's trust each time. 

Concerning your first story:

  • You can't just start over, you have to build on what you've already created and make it better - even if you hate it. 
  • If you can, bring guns - basically this means that when you're writing your first story remember that the world will want sequels so you should work in things you can build upon later without it looking like you left plot holes wide open

There are two different kinds of series:
1. Complete series - this is the normal series where it's book 1, book 2, etc etc.  Usually there's a continuing storyline that goes from one point to another and that's it.
2. Sandbox.  This is harder to do, but it can be done.  Think of Stephen King and artists like CLAMP, they have multiple stories that all take place in the same world/place.  So they're all linked together with a small item or place or person and in the end it comes up with a series, but you don't need all the pieces to get the complete story.

No comments:

Post a Comment