Sequels, Trilogies, Series – Oh My!

Filed in Ask the Editor, Author Inspirations by on December 2, 2013 0 Comments

 Sequels, Trilogies, and SeriesAs we draw to a close this month’s National Novel Writing Month, novel writers everywhere will be basking in the glow of accomplishment from completing their first novel. Ah, your first novel in your hands — it’s a beautiful thing!

Yet, someone is bound to ask the inevitable question: “So, when are you going to write the sequel?” Unless you are J.K. Rowling, Tom Clancy or J.R.R. Tolkien, it will be a question that many new novel writers will have to answer.

So, how do you go about writing a sequel, much less a trilogy or series, after your first novel? Well, if you are a novelist, there is a strong possibility that while writing the first novel you were planning the futures of your characters, their homeland and upcoming conflicts in their midst.

What is most important to keep in mind while creating a novel sequel is continuation of story, especially regarding the characters, the setting and the story’s main plotline. Readers are quick to pick up when a second book doesn’t meet their expectations set by the original and will cry “flop” before you can write a retraction book.

A good rule of thumb to consider while in the story continuation process is writing a brief synopsis before the second book’s first chapter. The literary recap will re-introduce readers (whether new or returning) to characters, their environment and how the last book concluded for all involved. Besides refreshing the content for readers, this may also help you as the writer to be reminded of all that transpired.

When beginning the second book, it is also important to briefly state any memorable events or character relationships that appeared in the first book. If these events or character attributes play an important role in the sequel, readers will appreciate the helpful reminder. This will be most beneficial to readers in terms of if/when a character’s personality makes a drastic change from the previous book that could be off-putting at first.

As with any great writer, there are sometimes too many directions you want to take with your main story, characters and setting than you have pages in your book. Consider your sequel to be an opportunity to use some of the ideas during the first book’s development for your second book. Is there a supporting character you want to bring to the forefront with this book? Maybe there is a location in the story that you feel warrants further exploring or a conflict that has more than meets the eye? Putting those ideas on paper for your next book will create a stronger foundation for your sequel and will help in fleshing out story angles and details.

Finally, the cover art for the sequel book should relate to the original book’s cover, visually capturing the main idea of the new book while still reflecting the original book’s concept.

Give what your fans want by keeping the momentum of your first hit novel “alive” through second, third and maybe even fourth book sequels. As proven from celebrated book series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, readers enjoy perusing book sequels. A good sequel also heightens their appreciation for the original book; one that they will feel encouraged to read again and again.

Once you have the second book under your self-published belt, the additional books will quickly flow from your fingers to the book pages in the hands of your enthusiastic fans.



About the Author ()

Blair Townley joined the Xulon Press family as a Staff Editor in May 2013, helping first-time authors prepare their treasured manuscripts for publication. Prior to Xulon Press, she previously worked as a staff writer/editor for several Central Florida-based magazines over the past decade. What Blair enjoys most about writing and editing is getting to help others share their stories, helping others see themselves as the unique individuals God created them to be.

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