Writing a sequel is uncharted territory for me. Full Moon Rising was the first novel I could actually say that I finished. I give a good amount of credit for that to my wife. The reason we co-author is because Full Moon never would have become a ‘finished product’ without the many hours and days she spent on it.
But finishing the book and realizing that I wanted to write two more placed a daunting task in front of me: I now need to write a sequel and make it at least as good as the first.
People say that I am overly critical of movies. The formula that I’ve recognized in Hollywood is that the first movie in a series is always the best, the second is always the worst and the rest are better than the second but never quite live up to the first. There are a rare few movie franchises out there that have proven me wrong. But again, this gives me something to think about as I’m writing Book Two.
The hurdles appear almost immediately: The characters who survived the conflict at the end have aged since the first book, sometimes this means their appearance has changed, so I have to decide how it has changed. I have to decided what new threats will be presented and how to make them fit with the story I want to tell. The biggest challenge of a sequel is this: What story do I want to tell?
The story has to be compelling, but not too much like the first. There has to be a notable difference from the first novel, but because it’s part of a series there has to be a connection that is deeper than the character’s themselves. There was character growth in the first book, so how are the characters going to grow in the second? How will the story tie into the third?
All these things assault me as I type. But in less than three months since starting Book Two, I’m already on page 100 and am quite pleased with where it’s going. New characters that I’d never even dreamed of when I first set out on this sequel have come into being something that the book couldn’t do without. The focus of the main character is finding definition and the path is being laid out. The supporting characters are feeling real enough that writing them is almost as much fun as writing the main cast.
It feels like a paradox. The sequel is more difficult than the first to write, but at the same time it’s easier. I have significantly more motivation to write and finish this novel. (one of the things that makes it easier this time around is that I actually have a map to work with) I have a set time frame that only occasionally gets interrupted or upset. And having co-authored the first entire novel, I have fallen in love with the main characters and the world itself and I am enjoying just wandering through a new and uncharted area of that world.
Book Two is turning out to be a blast to write. All the positive feedback we’ve received from Book One also helps a great deal.