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Old 05-01-2011, 05:31 PM   #1
G J Lau
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Sequel Questions

I'm just about set to begin writing a sequel to my first novel. Two quick questions.

I don't think I'll do this, but I'm just wondering: I used first person in The Magpie's Secret. Does anyone ever switch voice in sequels?

Also, any tips on how to handle what to reveal about the first book? It is hard in this case because the second book has to start right off with the final twist from the first novel. Anyway, just wondering if there are any general rules of thumb on this.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:40 PM   #2
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It's generally best to continue how you started, but you don't have to. Patricia Cornwell did a PoV switch in her Scarpetta series (which was better as a first person PoV), but sometimes you can't cover everything from only one viewpoint.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:45 PM   #3
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I imagine it's a fine balancing act. On one hand you don't want to rehash everything for someone who has read the 1st book, but on the other hand you don't want to have someone who hasn't read book 1 get lost. One thing I would think you could do is have some of the characters remember something, some event, that occurred in the 1st book. Something to help set the stage for the new book and refresh details for someone who read book 1 already without a long monologue. I'd guess that a lot of writers who write sequels and/or trilogies do some outlining of how events in the books link up as well.
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Old 05-01-2011, 06:34 PM   #4
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I'd guess that a lot of writers who write sequels and/or trilogies do some outlining of how events in the books link up as well.
If I read your comment correctly, you are suggesting I can use the blurb and summary to help set the stage a bit. It would kind of give readers a heads up that they should read the first book before the second if they want to fully enjoy the final twist. How I would write that remains a big mystery at this point.

Of course, this raises a whole other question about reading books in a series out of order. I try never to do that but sometimes it is unavoidable. I see now why writers tend to make stories isolated events. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed for this one.
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:35 AM   #5
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Actually I hadn't thought of the blurb, though I imagine it is useful in attracting readers. I was thinking more on continuity between the stories. I mean if a character suffers a badly broken leg in book 1 and a Dr.tells him/her that they will have a visible limp for the rest of their lives they aren't likely to win a marathon in New York City the summer afterward in book 2. Outlining what is what and how things link up between the two books would prevent such errors.

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If I read your comment correctly, you are suggesting I can use the blurb and summary to help set the stage a bit. It would kind of give readers a heads up that they should read the first book before the second if they want to fully enjoy the final twist. How I would write that remains a big mystery at this point.

Of course, this raises a whole other question about reading books in a series out of order. I try never to do that but sometimes it is unavoidable. I see now why writers tend to make stories isolated events. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed for this one.
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Old 05-02-2011, 08:28 AM   #6
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Can't you just repeat the last chapter from the first book? Then it will be a reminder for people who have forgot, and people who read them one after the other can just skip it. Not sure what you would do with the sample, but I suppose anyone who bought the first one would already know if they wanted the second one without a sample.
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Old 05-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #7
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Can't you just repeat the last chapter from the first book? Then it will be a reminder for people who have forgot, and people who read them one after the other can just skip it. Not sure what you would do with the sample, but I suppose anyone who bought the first one would already know if they wanted the second one without a sample.
I will be doing pretty much that in the foreword. My concern is someone who picks up the second without having read the first. I was thinking of using the jacket blurb or summary to kind of hint to readers that Book One ends with a twist that is revealed almost immediately in Book Two. They can decide if they want to invest the 99 cents to read the first one.

Of course my real concern should be getting anyone to read either of the books in any order. That would be the kind of problem I would love to have.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:41 AM   #8
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If the reading order is important I would put numbers on the cover and make it clear in the description which order they should be read in. I'd also bundle them together for people who haven't read either of them (maybe with a bit of a discount) as well as having them available individually.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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It's generally best to continue how you started, but you don't have to. Patricia Cornwell did a PoV switch in her Scarpetta series (which was better as a first person PoV), but sometimes you can't cover everything from only one viewpoint.
I couldn't disagree with you more . I found that the switch to first person in Patricia Cornwell's books made a series that I'd previously enjoyed, completely unreadable. I loath the use of first person in novels.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:56 AM   #10
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My advice is this:

1) The second book's tone and writing style should be similar to the first but can vary a little bit;
2) There should be some continutiy between the characters between the first and second novels, there may be some cast changes here and there but a few of the old cast should remain, unless dead;
3) Characters should not rehash what occured in the first novel however should referr back to things that happend in the earlier novel;
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Old 05-03-2011, 03:20 PM   #11
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I couldn't disagree with you more . I found that the switch to first person in Patricia Cornwell's books made a series that I'd previously enjoyed, completely unreadable. I loath the use of first person in novels.
The series started in first person, switched, then switched back. I prefer her first person PoV books more.
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Old 05-03-2011, 04:54 PM   #12
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The series started in first person, switched, then switched back. I prefer her first person PoV books more.
Sorry, my memory is playing tricks on me. You're right, of course. I've remembered now what it was that made the books almost unreadable for me: it was that she switched from the conventional past tense to writing in the present tense. I don't like that at all.
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Old 05-03-2011, 06:26 PM   #13
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Ah, gotcha. I'd also wager that it's something I'm guilty of myself in my own writings.

jbcohen has some good advice there. Rather than explaining the injury in the second book, you could do something simple like "caused by an incident in a previous adventure/case/whatever." They can either check to see if you have books out where it might have happened, or figure that it's part of the history of the character that hasn't been explained yet.

Last edited by TrineDaely; 05-03-2011 at 06:27 PM. Reason: call it a typo
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:36 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the input. This was a first novel so I am learning plotting on the fly. Knowing what I know now I would have saved the reveal at the end of the first book for the opening of the second book, cliff hanger style. But that ship has sailed, so I'll just have to emphasize in the blurbs that this is a sequel and that readers will have to decide for themselves whether to invest the 99 cents to get the first book.

I do intend to carry forward all the main characters. The locale of the second book will shift to a different part of the country, which will enable me to introduce a handful of new characters but will make it harder to keep the original characters involved since they will all be back home. That's the fun of it, I guess, solving all these little plot problems.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:18 PM   #15
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You don't have to involve all the originals, again something mentioned in passing about what they're doing elsewhere would clear them with the reader. i.e. "It would have been nice to have so-and-so's input on this since they're whatever expert, but so-and-so is busy doing something or other in this other place, so I guess I'll have to make do."
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