Lindsey R. Loucks

Author of Romance and Other Scary Things

How To Write the First Draft of a Sequel in 6 Easy Steps

What Gifts She Carried, book two of The Grave Winner series, is coming along. Not nicely, but it’s coming along. I’m already on page 36, so yay for that! It turns out that writing a sequel, much like writing any book, is hard. If you’re going through this too, here are some tips to keep from stabbing yourself in the eye with a french fry:

From www.bestuff.com

1. Open book one on your computer for reference. You don’t want your MC’s little sister to have a potty mouth or have a sudden fascination with vampire unicorns when she didn’t in book one. Well, I guess you could as long as there’s a reason for it.

2. Sneak in bits of back story throughout the beginning chapters. Readers may have forgotten what’s happened since reading book one and could use brief reminders here and there.

3. Look back at book one and remind yourself that it was crap too at one time. Don’t let the first draft blues suck your writing confidence through a straw.

4. Keep your novel outline close, but don’t be afraid to push it away every once in awhile. If a good idea comes to you that’s not on the outline, use it. If it surprises you, it will surprise your readers.

5. Resist the urge to go back and edit. Resist, I tell you! Puke up the story first, clean it up later. Ugh, sorry about that metaphor. I hope you weren’t eating.

6. Keep writing. Yes, that’s a given, but even if you’re not feeling it some days, keep writing. Have a daily word count goal or a daily that-would-be-really-cool-if-I-got-this-many-words-written-but-whatever-goal. I do the latter ‘cuz that’s how I roll.

Anyone else have some tips?

8 Comments

  1. I think 4 to 6 are sound advice for any novel. The others are important for a sequel, for sure.

    I’d like to go further with #1. I started a sequel to my first novel, and the first thing I did was carry forward all the worldbuilding notes and character sheets as my starting point. All the tools you might use to avoid that kind of continuity problem cropping up within a novel will also help from one to the next.

  2. Good tips! I think Tips 3-6 apply to any novels, not just sequels. I don’t always succeed in #5. I save major revisions for later, but I like to go back and clean up language, grammar, etc. There are some days when I’m just more productive in editing mode than writing mode… but I do agree it’s important not to get hung up on it and miss out on completing your MS. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Bot – That’s a great idea! My organizational skills when it comes to writing is laughable, so I don’t have any worldbuilding notes or character sheets. I could work for more organized people, though!

    Kim – you’re welcome! In my rush to get this story written before summer ends, I don’t have time to be in edit mode. Sometimes I’d rather be in edit mode because that hurts my brain less!

  4. Great suggestions… esp the part about not editing until it’s all done:)

  5. Tania – sometimes that’s the hardest part!

  6. I’m definitely a “that-would-be-really-cool-if-I-got-this-many-words-written-but-whatever” kind of girl myself. It’s the only way to be in the summertime!

  7. This is great advice, and a great list! Thanks for posting it. I’d also second what Bot said and emphasize the importance of detailed, detailed, detailed character lists built from book one.

    I usually write pretty fast, so I didn’t think I needed them, but when I went to write book 2 in the series (almost a year after finishing the first), I kept asking myself, “what color was her hair again?” or, “Where did that character live again?”

    I had to go back and re-read (carefully) the book one and compile a list of characters. Now I make that list every time I write something new. It saves time, and it’s a pretty good reference.

  8. Shell – It’s the only way to be period! 😀

    Steven – A character list… that’s a great idea!

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