There are numerous ways to manage sequels. The preferred method is often heavily genre specific. For example, if you write mysteries, the sequels are often the protagonists ongoing adventures. Whereas with romances, the whole point is how the hero and heroine fall in love. Readers can grow impatient waiting for that to occur over several stories, so sequels are often the stories of one or more minor characters from book one.
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But beyond genre specifics there are other things to take into account when writing a sequel. A lesson Jen and I learned the hard way.
We sold a series idea to Whitaker House which became the Charm and Deceit series. Book one went well, book two was easy peasy to write. Lots of adventure, huge stakes. But then we were faced with book three. The story we had pitched with our proposal sounded good. In it we are solving a mystery raised in book one. It ties the whole series together nicely. But when it came to actually writing it, there was a problem.
I believe I mentioned the huge stakes in book two? Yeah, Vanishing Act is set during the Civil War and concerns Tad Lincoln’s kidnapping. The stability of the Union teeters in the balance. Huzzah! Adventure, dash, and daring do ensue.
But then we hit book three like we’d run aground against a sandbar. You see in books one and two we had created certain reader expectations for the series. Now we were faced with the stakes being the resolution of a ten-year-old murder mystery. We were afraid it would be anticlimactic and the last thing I want to do is disappoint readers.
Lisa Karon Richardson
We managed to find a way to increase the stakes, but in the interests of sparing you a similar harrowing experience, my advice is to think beyond the individual arcs of the stories to creating an overall arc for the series while you’re still in the planning stage.Consistency is key as well. Make sure there is a similar tone or feeling. This is particularly important if you are featuring the same characters again and again. But even if you aren’t, your readers now have expectations about what experience the series will give them and again, we don’t want to disappoint readers.
Have you written a series? What tips and tricks can you share with us to make the process as pain free as possible?
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for two sets of the first two books in our Charm and Deceit series. Book #1 is Diamond in the Rough. Book #2 is Vanishing Act.Vanishing Act
Juliet Button doesn't even believe in ghosts, but she believes in supporting her makeshift family of misfits. Having spent years as assistant to her uncle, an illusionist, she now has all of the skills and know–how she needs to make an audience believe the impossible. So, she begins a career as a medium by the name of Miss Avila. She wants nothing to do with a detective with the power to destroy the life she's built, but when President Lincoln's youngest son is kidnapped, and the first lady comes to her for help, she can't refuse, even if it means facing Pinkerton agent Carter Forbes, who knows far too much about her already—and possibly falling in love.