Writing a sequel can be daunting, especially if book one was a success. Don't let that put you off - feel the fear and do it anyway! Jade Winters, an author who has just released a crime fiction sequel, gives her top tips on writing an interesting and successful follow up novel.
Even if your first book was a roaring success, don't feel pressured to write a sequel straight away - unless you're ready. It took me nearly two years to write the sequel to A Walk Into Darkness, and rushing a follow up story can make it messy and non-coherant.
Plan, plan, plan! Plan from the very beginning if it's going to be a series so you can insert complex plots across all books. Think about one of the most successful series of all time, Harry Potter, and how J K Rowling reveals surprises and plot loops in the very last book which she has planned from the first.
Try and keep the story going from where you left off - or as Mikey Spillane said - "The first page sells this book, the last page sells the next book."
Be consistent with the characters, even the minor ones - this includes personal characteristics, hair colour - even the type of car they drive. Readers will remember the slightest thing about characters they relate to. Keep notes about your characters' past, personality traits, home, pets, habits, etc.
Make the story unpredictable - readers know your characters, so think of how you can make your characters grow in the sequel.
Recap the story but don't do an info dump - remember readers may have read the first book a while ago so you must remind them of what happened, without boring readers who have a good memory.
A sequel still needs to be a book in itself - Introduce new characters and plot lines. Not all book series have to be read in chronological order, and if you have a standalone book which makes sense without reading book one, you may sell more copies.
Whatever questions you left unanswered in book one, need to be addressed in book two. Don't forget them! The questions don't necessarily need to be solved, but they do need to be brought to light. Maybe it won't be revealed until the next book? Keep your readers guessing.
Don't rush it! Take your time to develop the story and decide if the plot needs carrying on in another story. Do your characters have unfinished business or is it time to wrap it up?
Enjoy the process. When you hit a writer's block or are struggling deciding on an ending, be grateful you have the opportunity to write this sequel.
You can read the new book from Jade Winters, Everything to Lose, from 1st May.