When I first came up with the idea for A STONE’S THROW (November 2015 Limitless Publishing), I did not plan for it to be the first in a series. However, after I finished it, I realized that my characters were asking for at least one more book. How do characters ask this? Well, sometimes an author feels that their characters can be further developed in a sequel or a series. There might be storylines that were not completely tied up in the first, or there might be room for new characters and new storylines. That seemed to be the case for me.
Without giving away any details about the next in what may be one more book or a series of Cobble Cove novels, I would just like to share with readers and other fellow authors some DO’S AND DON’TS I learned from writing a follow-up to my romantic suspense novel.
- DO feature backstory from the first book in flashbacks sprinkled throughout the second.
- DO introduce new characters and show how they interact with the old.
- DO continue developing old characters. Remember, they age physically and also mature with their experiences.
- DO write in the same point of view as the original.
- DO make sure the timeline and dates are accurate from one book to the other.
- DO make sure that previous characters continue to have the same habits and mannerisms. Also recheck their appearance. If the time you are writing about from one book to the other is a wide gap, remember to age all characters accordingly.
- DO fill in info about occurrences/events that happened between books. i.e. Have any characters died? Gotten married? Moved?
- DO leave the ending open for a third book if you intend on continuing the series. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tie up the plot completely, but leave room for the characters to grow and change.
- DO inform your readers and fans of the upcoming book. It’s also a nice idea to offer the first one at a discount or for free for those who haven’t yet read it.
- DO write in the same genre. If the first book is a mystery, it would be strange to have your characters appear in a science fiction in the second book. Also, try to keep the books approximately the same length if possible.
- DON’T write a follow-up book that is too similar to the first. It’s okay to have similarities, but you want something that generates new interest.
- DON’T write a follow-up book that is drastically different from the first. The tone, atmosphere, and genre should be the same.
- DON’T forget to include any characters. If you have a lot of characters in the first book, make sure you feature the main ones or explain what happened to them between books.
- DON’T introduce new characters without giving them a role. Adding new characters for the sake of having more characters won’t sit well with readers. However, if you develop the new characters well and plan to use them in an upcoming book, that could be useful.
- DON’T seek out a new publisher. If you published your book traditionally, it only makes sense to try to sell the second book to the first publisher.
- DON’T refer to something that happened in the first book without providing a reference to it.
- DON’T set the book on a stage that doesn’t suit it. If your first book took place in a small town, don’t move it to the big city (although it’s always possible to have the characters take a trip there).
- DON’T change any character drastically unless you explain the change. For instance, if someone loses weight, explain that they were on a diet. If someone’s personality changes, explain what the cause might be.
- DON’T sweat the small stuff. You needn’t go into major detail about all the happenings from the first book, but it’s nice to include some of the major stuff when you can work it into the story.
- DON’T choose a title that has little significance with the previous book. It’s nice to be able to identify a series by its title. This can be done in various ways. You can keep one word in every title the same or you can use related words or themes. You can bet my follow up title to A STONE’S THROW will have something to do with rocks and, perhaps, a common quote or phrase.
Looking forward to sharing more information about my sequel soon. I hope these tips help other authors. Both readers and authors should feel free to comment any other ideas/thoughts about series writing.