I'm about 50 pages into the Raised By Wolves sequel, and it's starting to really get rolling. I'm having a ton of fun, but I thought I'd take a minute to talk about some of the not-as-fun parts about writing sequels, because in the last few months, I've talked to several debut authors who, in the process of writing their first sequels, became absolutely miserable, because they didn't realize that sequels are generally HARD for a LOT people, and that sometimes, sequels can play with your mind in a way that first books don't. Most people writing their first sequels think it's just them, and that they're the only ones who are facing Death By Sequel, but actually, that's just what sequels tend to do. Ally and I joke that someday, we are going to give a panel talk entitled "How To Write Sequels (Without Crying Every Day)."
Now, to disclaim, Platinum didn't give me fits when I first wrote it (though it gave some readers fits upon reading, because I switched narrators and the tone of the book was different, and some readers really loved that and some were devastated that they didn't get to see what happened next to Lissy and Dylan). And the second Squad book was written IMMEDIATELY after I finished the first, so it flowed pretty well (though I did have the experience of writing Book 2 prior to revising Book 1, which is, I must admit, the kind of fun that's not, given that all the changes to Book 1 then ripple through Book 2). But FATE, the sequel to TATTOO, pretty much almost killed me, in part because Tattoo was originally conceived as a standalone, and in part because a full three years passed between the time I wrote the first book and the time I wrote the second, which meant that by the time I sat down to write it, I was a totally different writer than I was when I wrote the first book.
In any case, whether the book flows or not, whether it's relatively easy or almost kills you, sequels are a different beast, and that can take people off guard. So, just to show anyone who's banging their head into a wall that they're not alone, I give you FIVE THINGS I've been thinking about while digging into the Wolves sequel.
1. "Is this too similar to the first book?" - Because the last thing you want to do is write the exact same book AGAIN.
2. "Is this too different from the first book?" - Because you don't want readers who loved the first book to be totally disengaged with the second.
3. "Will people who didn't read the first book understand this one?" -Because really, that would be nice.
4. "But OMG, what if the people who HAVE read the first one get irritated at the subtle recap?" -Because maybe the recap isn't as subtle as I think it is.
5. "What if the first book was a fluke, and I really can't write a sequel that's anywhere near as good?" -This is the trickiest one- I suspect it is because when you're writing a sequel, it's easy to forget that the FIRST draft of the first book wasn't nearly as polished as the final draft, and when you compare the first draft-in-progress of the sequel to your mental file of what the first book was like, you're actually comparing apples and oranges. And OF COURSE the first draft of the sequel isn't going to out-shine the tenth draft of the original. It's going to need to go through it's own evolution, and for my sanity, I just need to let it do that.
So for those of you writing sequels and having a tough time of it, take heart! This is NORMAL. You are NOT ALONE. And now, I must go write...
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Five Things (That You Think While Writing Sequels)