It happens sometimes that after the first book is written, there is a character or part of the story that you want to go back again. This is where a sequel comes in. Sequels are exciting in that they give readers a chance to delve deeper into the story and the characters.
Here are the reasons for writing a sequel:
- Readers want to know what happens next and ask about a follow-up.
- You have ideas for what happens next, and you want to write it.
- The sequel can live on its own.
In writing a sequel, writers needs to create a new and independent plot, basically starting from scratch. This can be a bit of a challenge, especially when the expectations are high after the first book.
Here are seven rules to writing a good sequel, according to Writer’s Digest:
1. Don’t just pick up where the last story left off.
Although the most obvious place to begin a sequel is where book one’s story ended, it is not so. Remember that the original story is over. The plotlines have been resolved! You can’t go back again, as they say.
What readers really want is to feel the way the first story made them feel, so give them something fresh and different and make them feel that way again.
2. Give the reader something new.
To have a better chance of success for your sequel, make it more different than the first book. The best sequels completely reinvent their characters and the central story. You need to have new plotlines and new character arcs. You don’t need to resolve lingering plotlines and character arcs from the first book.
3. Make the stakes different.
Although creating a different frame for the story is a good, it isn’t enough. Avoid the tendency to recreate the original plot by just making it on a grander scale.
A way to increase the stakes is by throwing a new twist to the story. Then make sure you increase the stake with each scene or chapter.
4. Play with expectations.
Readers almost always have high expectations when it comes to sequels, especially if the first one was really good. Rise to challenge and confound those expectations. Do this and your readers will love you more for it.
5. Include at least one great new character.
To make a story feel more fresh, create one very memorable new character. Make it someone unlike any of the characters in the previous book. Shake things up a bit by making this character as different from your main hero as possible.
6. Don’t be afraid to let beloved characters go.
Most often readers are drawn to a sequel because of the characters. In a sequel, make sure that the characters that you keep are performing an essential plot function. Otherwise, let them go.
7. Identify what made the first book special, then offer more.
While it’s important for a sequel to shake things up, don’t forget what made people like the first book. Determine what made the first book successful, then do what you can to defy the expectations of the readers. Give your readers a fresh take on the things that they liked from the first book.
Writing a sequel that is just as good as the first book is a daunting task. Hopefully with these tips, you will be able to write a sequel just as good as the first one.
Hartinger, Brent. “Writing Sequels: 7 Riles for Writing Second Installments.” Last modified December 3, 207. https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/7-rules-writing-sequels.
Lewis, Keionda. “Top 7 Tips for Writing a Successful Sequel.” Accessed July 23, 2023. https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/top-7-tips-for-writing-a-successful-sequel/.
Now Novel. “How to Write a Sequel That Satisfies: Simple Guide.” Accessed July 23, 2023. https://www.nownovel.com/blog/how-to-write-a-sequel/.