Friday, June 15, 2012

Writing A Sequel...Yikes!

I recently published the sequel to my first novel, Into the Shadows. I took awhile to get it out -- it's been 18 months! My biggest mistake was following the traditional publishing route in the sense that when I start writing, I wrote Into the Shadows, and then moved on to something else. At that time (2008) the standard was to do that -- write the book and then keep writing other things. Writing a sequel was seen as a silly idea. Why write a sequel if no publishers buy the first book?

But now the game has changed and in epublishing, you really need to get the next book out as soon as you can.

This brought up my second problem. It's easy to SAY you're writing a trilogy, it's another thing to actually figure out what the other books are going to be about. I said it was a trilogy, but other than knowing how I wanted the second and third books to end, I had NO idea what else I was going to write. And I was completely terrified I wouldn't be able to come up with anything good. Eventually, I was able to brainstorm my way through it, and have already started the third book and have a solid list/outline of how I want it to go. I keep adding to that weekly as well! My advice...really plan that trilogy/series out if it's going to continue the story.

I have a second series that is not a trilogy. Bloody Little Secrets was initially written as a stand-alone novel, but the interest is there and I had already been taking notes for a sequel, which I hope to write this summer. I'm approaching this one differently than the Into the Shadows trilogy. My plan is to write another stand-alone novel, using the same characters. I don't want to leave cliffhangers or anything. It'll just be another story with a solid ending. That way I'm free to either continue the series with as many books as I choose, and really, whenever I want. Or I can stop at 2 books and not feel guilty that I left anyone hanging.

It has been quite the experience and although I swear I'll never do another trilogy again, I'm sure I will! Happy writing!

Karly Kirkpatrick is an obsessed Harry Potter fan and the author of such books as Into the Shadows, Darkness Rising, The Green, and Bloody Little Secrets. She likes her pizza hot and her beer cold. You can also visit her and her books and wave hello at


  1. Sequels are hard. I'm in the midst of editing a sequel and it was hard to write. With a first novel, the characters, setting, etc., are all new and exciting to the reader. But with a sequel, you have to find new ways for the characters to grow, a way to expand the setting, and new plots twists that borrow from the first book but are still fresh. (I'm so glad I didn't know how hard this would be before I started. :)

  2. I completely agree with Connie - the sequel is much harder than it appears! But I have to say the third book is also more fun than I expected. :)

  3. Writing my first true sequel in a planned series now. Challenging but exciting.

  4. Interesting! I never thought about that with thinking of the agency model. I guess that's why I didn't start on my sequel right away either. There are so many people that I tell "Oh don't worry about the rest of the series if the first one doesn't sell." But now when I do think about it, if you think in terms of Indie that is what you need to do. Get that series out.

    *Sigh* Now this means you're going to make me work on alien book three.

  5. I write mostly stand alone books but my first novel I knew would have a sequel. Writing tat sequel was HARD. I was so stressed over if it would be as good as the first, if not better, that I gave myself writer's block. To finish it, I had to set it aside and not think about it. It took two months before I got unblocked and knew how to finish it.

  6. Okay, I'm editing book 2 right now and compared to writing the first book, this one has been easier. Not necessarily plotting wise but because I already know the tone, the characters. I know what mistakes I made drafting the first one and know to veer away from that. I've listened to feedback from readers and reviewers on the first one and know how to improve. So for me, writing book 2 has been easier. And it's been fun to develop the characters and the romance even more, in ways I couldn't in the first.

    I'd love to write a true series with the same characters but that could be read as stand alones.

  7. I'm starting on my third trilogy/series and it has finally gotten through to me that I need to do a little plotting. :) I had many, many days on the sequels where I was like, "I have no idea where this is going or how I'm going to get out of this mess I've created!"