Writing The Continuation

Anyone else here writing the second (or anything that's not the first) book in a series? My NaNo project is book 2 in my trilogy and my main issue is this: how the heck do I make sure it's good enough to keep readers interested?

Here's my checklist.  Hope it helps!
  1. Are the stakes higher than the last book? 
  2. Do your characters have more to lose if they fail?
  3. Have your characters clearly developed from the last story?
  4. And, following on from 3, are your characters still in character? Make sure you haven't given them a personality transplant. 
  5. If you're introducing new characters, are you doing so in a way that doesn't upset the balance between the existing characters?
  6. Can the danger in this new story be linked back to an older story, even if it's just the tiniest of references?
Essentially, is everything more explosive than before? No? CRANK IT UP! If everything in book one was hitting 11 out of 10, book two needs to score 20 out of 10.

I cannot tell you yet if it's easy, because I'm still in the early stages of book two.  All I know is, I've made sure the stakes are way higher this time and failure will spell doom for my protagonist.

Here's book two's theme song:


I know A.J Mullarky will back me up here.  Writers cannot go wrong with Two Steps From Hell.  Start listening and get writing!

Comments

  1. Omg, I just had to deal with this. (And will deal with it again shortly, I guess.) Just finished book 2 of my trilogy, and I didn't realize how deep I was in until about 3/4 through the book. So now I'm going to run through your checklist really fast and make sure I got what I needed to.

    1 - yes, definitely.

    2 - yes. And in some cases, they do lose it.

    3 - I think so. Most of them.

    4 - I worried about this SOOO much. I was worried because one of my MCs has a lot of quirks and I wasn't able to work them in as often, but hopefully he still comes off the same.

    5 - I'm pretty sure I got this one down. Although I did have some trouble reintegrating characters that briefly appeared in the first book.

    6 - Yes! Yay for taking down tyrannical governments!

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  2. Francesca: Second books definitely aren't easy. They take even more dedication and careful tuning than the first book because the characters are established but they have to keep fighting without the plot growing weak.

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  3. They're good questions. I LOVE Two Steps From Hell!

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  4. *squee*


    (sorry for double post :P)

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  5. Yes, I'm on my second book, and it's definitely going to be more exciting than the first. They're essentially too very different books, though. The first is in Victorian Boston with just some shadowy weirdness and occasional faeries around, and the second is in another world completely, with TONS of faeries around. So I can say yes to your checklist ahead of time, though I'm only a bit into the second book.

    I also am much happier now that I went back to that book instead of the brand-new novel I thought up for Nano which I've hardly developed at all. I like having a foundation to go from. (I'm a pantser, so it helps to have an entire first book to go from.)

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  6. econd books are tough!

    Sometimes I think many second books in trilogies suffer from a sense of incompleteness. First book may end on cliffhangers, but they are often feel more like a finished, whole story. Second books frequently fall into the trap of feeling like a way station, a journey to fill the time and space between the exciting beginning and the exciting end.

    I think with second books it's important to remember, as we write, that the second book not only need to continue what Book 1 began and set up Book 3, but also be a satisfactory story on its own.

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  7. AJ Mullarky: Two Steps from Hell never fail to inspire.

    Donelle: Oooh, sounds very interesting! I too have a totally unrelated book I intend to write, but getting to know the characters from the start is a lot harder, isn't it?

    Anonymeet: You make such a good point about second books in trilogies. I hope mine won't feel like filler.

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  8. I'm not really planning to write a sequel or follow-up in the near future, but your check list almost makes me want to give it a try. Sounds like an awesome challenge! Hmm... now I'm pondering how I could possibly make a sequel work... :)

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  9. Katy: Should you catch Sequel Fever, I hope the list comes in helpful! :D

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  10. Sounds like you've got it all planned out - awesome... haven't tackled a book 2 yet, but been making notes as I polish book 1 in the series... great points... will have to remember them for when I get started with book 2:) Best of luck.

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  11. TF Walsh: Weeeeell, "plan" is a strong word :P I certainly have targets in mind. Good luck to you too when you get down to book 2!

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  12. That's a great list. So good, in fact, I'm bookmarking this post! Cole's Super List, ftw!

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  13. Kris: Hooray! Thanks for bookmarking ^_^

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