To Sequel or Not to Sequel

Fantasy Travelling

The Two Narrators

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Steve C

Mar 1, 2019
That is the question.
Just written THE END (WHOOPPEEEEE) on my first book. Have started a sequel but it occurs to me it may be a stupid thing to do. If I can't get the first book published I stand no chance with the second. It's like putting more eggs into the basket.
If I had an idea for a totally different book that would be great but I don't so what to do? Sequel or not?
Good question, Steve. My views on this are split. Maybe I should consider being a politician.

On the one hand if you have the idea for the continuation it's not a bad thing and writing it up would keep your writing muscles in good shape.

BUT, if you're writing with your eye firmly fixed on making both commercial projects, then that could be a lot of time ploughing the same fruitless furrow. All well and good if book one gains interests and a deal, but maybe a lot of a waste of effort if it doesn't?

I'd be tempted to see if you have something new you could work on, or maybe an old abandoned piece you can look at again and use all the skills you've picked up writing your current book to breathe new life into that, while putting lots of focus on getting the current completed book out there to agents and publishers and then see what the response is.


'you can shake the sequel out of your sleeve.' Made me smile. :) like magic, poof there you are, a book!!

Outlining, nah I am a pantser through and through. I tend to write one day at a time then jot a few notes down as ideas for the next day. I love how things just grow that way and as ideas come I go with them.
writing it up would keep your writing muscles in good shape.
That is, I think the main reason I'm going to carry on with the sequel, that and I have no alternative inspiration. At least I can write at the end of my query letter there is another book in the pipeline. Apparently agents like the idea of an ongoing business partnership. In any case, I enjoy writing for its own sake - when it's going well :)
The ever-witty Don Marquis reckoned that: A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to imitating yourself'.

It's true that in writing a series of stories about the same characters, you start to feel trapped, but the story arc is compelling. Also, it's reckoned that having a series of titles is the best way of attracting the attention of literary agents, and, if you self-publish, fans of the genre like gobbling up all of your stories in one go! I've completed five Cornish Detective titles and am still searching for the lost sixth manuscript.

I'm fond of my protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle, but I take a break from him to write poetry, short stories or novellas.
I failed to find an agent for my first book (their fault not mine, officer) so I self-published it in October. In the meantime, I have written a second book in the series. It is set in the same universe, but the MC in the 2nd book is the granddaughter of the MC in the first. I've written it so it could be read as a stand-alone but would satisfy people who liked the first. My plan is to try to get it traditionally published as a stand-alone, but if it takes off, the first could be revamped as a prequel. Then, all the other stories in the universe could be brought out in the future as spin-offs. You see, I'm thinking big . . . like Star Wars or Marvel :superhero:big!
Joffe ...and theirs does look like a very fair publishing model....seem to specialise in authors who write series.
One thing to be said for writing a sequel when the first book hasn't been published is that it may stimulate some ideas that could go into the first book to improve it's chances of being published. Or it could become a standalone book that's richer for all the work you've done on its backstory, which lands you a publishing deal and then you bring out the first one as a prequel. You may have this burning desire to know what happens to your characters next and the best/only way to find this out is by writing by the seat of your pants as you do and see where the story goes. My own experience to date has been to write one book (plotted), then write a prequel developing all the backstory I'd already sketched out (plotted), and then because I wanted to know how the characters went from the end of the first book to the beginning of the second one which occurred a year later, wrote what's now the middle part of the trilogy (80/20 'pantser'/plotted). The result: three novels that can work standalone, as a trilogy or as a pair. All unpublished, true, but even if no-one else ever reads and enjoys them, I will, and I'll know the experience has helped me to learn how to write and some different ways of doing so.
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I have just finished the first draft of the third book in my trilogy 3 years after writing book one. I'm very glad I wrote the sequels no matter what happens. I'm a better writer now in that world. I thought I knew my characters well, but I know them so much better now. It has meant that I can go back to book one and further 3-d my characters and enrich my prose and dialogue. Carrying on where I left off made it easier to write another book. My next one will be different and the story arc and characters will take longer to develop (I'm a plotter, outliner) but I will write a much better book (I hope) than if I'd tried to do it after book one. As they say, writing improves writing, so even if you never use it, it's not wasted. and if you don't use it, you've got a source of ideas to implant into other books.
@David Y @Hannah F
Thanks Guys
You both make similar and very valid points. I think I secretly had plans to write a sequel before I finished the first book. There was one unresolved issue which I sort of hid so now I can open it up again and it's a biggy - like why didn't he kill someone who now comes back to haunt him.
The truth is I think I didn't want to let go of my characters + having them so developed in my mind the writing flows more easily. I find it smoother and faster as I am in the same world.
I am wary though of making it too esoteric for a new reader. All the references to past events may tickle a past reader or bore them but confuse a new one.
For example. In the first book Dan was stabbed in the leg and now has a limp. I am not sure how much to explain the limp in the sequel. Readers of the first book know it all already but new readers may want an explanation. That dilemma is rearing its head repeatedly and I haven't finished the second chapter yet. It seems there is a balance to be found. Having said that the sequel may end a more intriguing story than the first because of all the crumbs I have available to drop here and there.
The thing is I am enjoying myself :)
The thing is I am enjoying myself :)
Just on that basis alone, Steve, I think it must be worth carrying on. I have always found writing, particularly when I'm enjoying it, is the best we can get. Creativity and inspiration tend to flow smoothly and it's a welcome counterpoint to those days when every word has to be hewn and chiseled from great lumps of formless granite.

Crack on and good luck. :)
I would say, don't worry at this stage about what might confuse the new reader or bore those in the know. Just write from beginning to end. It will be much easier, then, to decide when, if and where to explain things.
I would say, don't worry at this stage about what might confuse the new reader or bore those in the know. Just write from beginning to end. It will be much easier, then, to decide when, if and where to explain things.
Yeah, that's what I'm doing. I am reasonably sure the mentions of the past will intrigue a fresh reader but when I then have to explain them I worry a first book reader will yawn. Anyway it would be a victory of sorts to even have some of those :)
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Fantasy Travelling

The Two Narrators