Sequel Sorrows

I got myself all set up to start writing the next book in my series today, and already I find myself stymied. How much explanation do I have to give of the previous book’s events at the beginning of this one? Do I assume that readers have read the first installation and skip all the details, or do I have to give a blow-by-blow recounting of everything in The Unravelling? I mean, people don’t just jump straight to the second book in a series, do they? And writing in the first person complicates it further, for me anyway. I don’t want it to feel like Callie’s saying, “now sit down, little reader, and let me tell you about everything that just happened. We’ll get to the exciting new parts in a bit.”

I suppose the best thing to do is to go back and have a look at the first chapters of books beyond the first in some of my favourite series, and see how they handle it. I have a bit of reading to do. And I was all psyched up to start writing today too!




Tonight’s Beverage of Choice


  1. Hi there, I have just nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. The post explaining the award and its requirements is here. Happy blogging!

  2. Readers shouldn’t expect a second book to contain a complete run-through of the first. What I HAVE seen in sequels is ‘What came before’, a chapter that can be skipped if necessary.

    • Have you read The Passage, by Justin Cronin, and its sequel, The Twelve, that came out late last year? I really liked the way he handled explaining events from the previous book in the next (a sort of log of events in point form, recorded from a future point). That format won’t work at all with my subject matter, but it’s giving me ideas on different ways of getting that pertinent info in there.

      • Nicole
        It’s not one that I’ve read, but other writers have mentioned it more than once.
        I will add it to my to-read list!

  3. I’m having this same challenge, especially since my previous book had so many important things that seem to big to just ignore or not mention in the sequel. However, when I try to explain them in a quick or offhand way, its just awkward. Glad to know I am not the only one struggling with this!

    • I keep telling myself right now that it’s the first draft of the first chapter… I just need to keep moving forward because by the time this is a finished project it’s probably going to look completely different. 🙂

  4. One of my favorite books of all time is the second book in a trilogy. The first and third are not good. I certainly did dive straight into the second book without even knowing there were others, and I thought the author handled it beautifully. She brings up events from the previous book only when relevant, leaving the reader feeling as though there is simply a rich back history, not like you’ve missed something major. I’ve been trying to tease out exactly how to do that myself. I like it the best of any sequel I’ve ever read. The book is “Catspaw” by Joan Vinge. A political sci-fi. It’s an old one, out of print I believe. But so very, very well done.

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