Why did I pick Kung Fu Panda? Literally no reason. Well, if you have a sharp eye (or an addiction to DreamWorks films) you might notice that this is a screenshot from the opening scenes of Kung Fu Panda 2. Hence it serves the purpose for this article. But Kung Fu Panda’s cool, right? (Or…AWESOME, as Po might say)
But seriously, writing a sequel is awesome. In this article, I’ll do my best to equip you with some hots tips that will motivate you to chase down the next adventure of your beloved characters in the world(s) that you’ve created.
To start out, I first need to congratulate you on your first book. Whether or not you’re waiting (or even wanting) to publish it, it signifies a huge milestone: You have created a big enough world and interesting enough characters with adventures to match that you now need two books to contain it. Great job: looks like your heroes are about to ride out and solve more problems. Your fans rejoice.
This would be the part where I’d say something along the lines of “ah, but you have a long and difficult path ahead” (you know me so well, dear reader) so I’m not. Instead, I’ll tell you that writing a sequel is generally easier than writing the novel that came before. Is it harder to build a house on the untamed wilderness or to build a house on a foundation?
Your first book serves as that foundation. Think about it: you’ve built most of the characters, world, history, and past adventures by writing the first novel. The second novel is far easier because you’re using tools you’ve already made on a foundation that is there when you begin it.
If you’re like most writers, starting on a sequel becomes increasingly fun and easy. The flow well and your reluctance to write on the progress dramatically decreases (vs writing single novels, that is). New ideas populate your head as your fingers flow over the keys.
I have a few tips that can help you take this motivation to the max, however. The first of these is to avoid getting stuck. The fun of writing quickly dissipates if it becomes like a string of math problems. Minimize this by not being too ambitious: if you don’t need to introduce a ton of new and complicated ideas, than sleep on it. At least, wait until later in the story: you don’t want your creative sprees to get locked down or clogged up (what? English is weird) by TMI (Too Much Information). Don’t be too ambitious in the beginning. If you want to, however, go straight ahead with foreshadowing for the big things to come.
Another tip is to have a rough outline of where the story will go. This usually takes the form of a vague “this is the hero(es), this is the villain(s), and this is how the villain(s) will try to screw the hero(es)” You want to have a rough idea on who the main protagonists and antagonists and antagonists are, as well as how the latter’s plot to destroy the former.
Plots can take on lives of their own. At the beginning of the book, it is most volatile. There are a billion and one ways for it to develop, even in a sequel. At the early stages of development, try to corral it into a certain direction in order to avoid it getting out of control.
And since you’ve made so many great tools…use them. Make old characters reappear and bring dead ones back to life. Explore new facets of original characters and make new ones to test their mettle. Cause your world (and your characters) to grow and evolve.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!