Is It Really Harder Writing a Sequel?

These are scarlet gilia blossoms – big favorite with the hummingbirds. Such a vivid color.

It’s interesting how each new book I write is a different experience. Over the years, I’ve heard writers make note of this, but I suspect it’s one of tose things that, when you experience it for yourself and it hits home, you have that big “ohhh” moment.

In some ways it’s a satisfying feeling. “I’m a big girl writer now and I get what all these other long-established writers have been talking about.” But it’s also kind of daunting. Because you suddenly realize that you do not have this gig down. That you will never have this gig down. That each new book brings a new set of challenges.

Which is a good thing, right? All that learning and growing and development of craft and art.

This is on my mind because it came up in comments on yesterday’s post and also because I’ve started the sequel to Rogues Pawn, which will be Book 2 in the Covenant of Thorns series. Kev suggested I call it Rogue’s Spawn, which I am just SO tempted to do, if I didn’t think the Carina marketing team would kill me for it. It wouldn’t be inaccurate since Rogue does want her firstborn child – and that’s not a spoiler because it’s right there in the blurb. So, for now, I’m just calling it RP2.

Thing is, this is the first sequel I’ve written. The other follow-ups are same world, same general idea, but new characters, new story. This is the same characters and a continuing story.

And it’s HARD.


Usually I love drafting a new story, but this has just been a slog so far. The first chapter has taken forever. I have to keep going back to the first book and my notes to make sure the continuity is right. It’s kind of pissing me off.

So, I did what every good writer does: I whined to my CP Laura Bickle about it. She cheerfully came back with “Oh yeah – writing a sequel sucks.”

Which took me aback. She’d never mentioned.

“The first half is always a slog. I never feel good about it until I get halfway,” she continued, all perky. “You’ll be fine. Just keep slogging.”

So, now I know.

So, how about you all who’ve written sequels? Can you verify Laura’s assessment? Any tips or tricks?

Or chocolate?

That works, too.

14 Replies to “Is It Really Harder Writing a Sequel?”

  1. And here you thought I was making it up? LOL 😉

    Slogging is about right to a point – I mean, the baby isn’t new anymore. The muse is sometimes a bit “been there and done that” so you need to find a way to make it exciting again. (Which sometimes doesn’t happen until about part way through and everything falls into place – eg. YOU get excited about it again.)

    1. No, Allison, I just thought you were being a pansy-ass whiner! Like me. *sigh* That sounds exactly like what Laura said. Looking forward to that “excited again” moment…

  2. I actually find writing sequels a little easier in that I already have the characters’ voices nailed down, BUT it does involve a lot of I-can’t-do-that-because-it-conflicts-with-book-one and double-checking details.

  3. Sequels are harder because the characters are already established and you need to basically break them so you can create a character arc for them. Or at least that’s my theory as to why I find them harder.

  4. I hated that moment. The one where I was writing book two and realized I didn’t have the whole writing thing figured out. Three full rewrites, massive character changes and a super intense revision letter later… I think I made it out alive. But yeah, sequels suck. Lol. I’d do it again though. One of the best learning experiences to date.

  5. Sequels are definitely hard. For my YA, I started a series bible. (Which I need to do for my adult stuff too.) I use it to keep track of everything from descriptions to family connections to class schedules (damn YA :P) and when and how characters were introduced. It’s a pain, but if a series is going to be on-going for a while, it’s a life-saver.

    Otherwise, it is a lot of slogging, even if you know exactly how you plan to break the characters LOL. For the second of my YAs, my a-ha moment came when I finally found “the right” title for it. One word changed and it altered the entire way I looked at the MC’s character arc.

    Seems like for sequels it is much more about all the little details.

    1. Ooh – that’s good insight, Seleste. As if the first book introduces the broad sweep, but then after that it’s about the smaller moments and details. I’ll have to mull that over.

  6. LOL. They ARE hard. And Keena has it right – ya gotta find a way to break characters again. And still give them hope. But stick to the theme.

    It does get easier. For me, it doesn’t get downhill until after that fifty percent mark. Then, I get the flow and understand what the flibbitigibbit it was I meant to say.

    YMMV. 😀

  7. I wrote my first sequel this past January. I think it started out as a slog, but once I just let go and let the book be what it would be, it flowed out so much easier. Sure, I’ll have a boatload of continuity issues to fix once I go back and edit the damn thing, but at least it’s on paper. (Or magnetic media, as the case actually is.)

    Hang in there, Jeffe. You’ve got the really hard part already down – the first book is going to be published. (And btw, if I haven’t said it yet – SQUEE.)

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