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I win! While Jennifer is out gorging herself on chocolate, I’m here to talk about writing a second book. Not a first second, but a second second.
If you’re going ‘huh?’, then I shall explain.
One can write many, many, many first books. First of a series. First of a trilogy. First of a set of books in some set of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. These are still all ‘firsts’, no matter how many you’ve written.
But if you take even one of those ‘firsts’ and then add in the 2nd, that’s where things get different.
First off, you have to know if it’s a series 2nd or a sequel. One is very different than the other. In a series, you might change main charaters, the first book’s plot was fully resolved and/or a new conflict arises, and all books may be standalones. In a sequel set (like a trilogy or epic), the story continues, the plot has not been fully resolved and if you didn’t read the first book you will very likely be lost.
Secondly, no matter which you are writing, you have to decide how much it matters if the readers have read book 1 to understand book 2. In a standalone series, it might be useful to have read book 1, but not necessary. There are often hints toward a first book, but not the outright retelling or recapping of the plot.
Now, let’s say you’re writing in a series, where every book builds, this is even trickier because if someone is keeping up, adding in the backstory takes away their need to read book 1. But … you don’t want to whole heartedly confuse them (in case you can make them love book two enough to want to buy book 1) so you have to add little drips and drabs for clarity but not too much.
What’s the balance?
That depends a little on the writer, a little on the editor and a little on the reader.
Are you willing to anger readers by forcing them to read book 1? You could. Not all will get mad. Some will go, ‘uh, but oops … I started in book 2, guess I need to read book one’. Others will turn away from the series altogether.
The reality is, you’ll never satisfy all readers, so, it comes back to what YOU as the writer wants to say. Some books literally have no book 1 backstory. Some are full of it to the point that by book 3 or 4 or 5 the reader is bored to tears with the same repeated description of characters already well known.
So writing a book two is even more subjective than first books! Crazy, huh?
I will say, though, that the key to clarity is having someone read book 2 who has not read book 1. Then, right there, they can tell you where they needed a little more backstory and you can determine how best to fill in the blanks and to what level.
Writing a book 2 is far harder because of this logistical aspect, but as a writer of 3 book 2s, now (two standalone series, Surrender which JUST released this month, Silent Echoes which releases in March, 2013 and 1 trilogy book 2 – Day After, the second in the 19th Year by Emi Gayle) I find it even more fun because I get continue on with characters I’ve already fallen in love with, get to experience more of their life and get to enjoy them all over again.
So all that being said, I have a book 2 giveaway for you, and you can decide if I’ve managed to confuse or entice you to read book 1.
Just answer this in the comments of Jennifer’s blog, today or tomorrow, and we’ll randomly choose one person for an ebook of Surrender as well as a signed bookmark!
The question: “What else do you think has to go into a 2nd book to make someone want to read book 1?”
I look forward to reading your responses!
Visit Aimee’s blog: http://www.aimeelaine.com/blog/
- Interview and Giveaway With Romantic Suspense Author, Alexa Grace… (mybookaddictionandmore.com)
- How can I get the most out of a writing conference? (altongansky.typepad.com)
- Becoming a Brand Versus Writing What You Want to Write (justinelarbalestier.com)
- The Omnivore Reader (hoosierwriter.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: That is All by John Hodgman (smcwrites.com)
- Guest Post: Hard Work Comes In Threes (petedenton.wordpress.com)
- BOOK REVIEW: The Goddess Hunt (Goddess Test, #1.5), by Aimee Carter (readinginwinter.wordpress.com)
- My heart may just burst! (adayinyvetteslife.wordpress.com)
Wow! What a poem. Thanks for joining the blogfest. 🙂
Ooo ok, I think a little dose of back story, along with hints at the plot. I’m reading a book 2 at the moment and I didn’t realise there was ome before. I know enough about the characters to stol connect and not get confused, but I’d love to know how their relationships formed and the nitty gritty of the massive fights described. O think it would just round off experience. And that’s what makes me want to go back
I’m a firm believer that characters make or break the story. If the characters become real inside the reader’s head, the reader will come back for more. If they’re flat, then they’ll be forgotten by the time the book makes it back on the shelf. What that magic ingredient is that makes a character compelling is often elusive, though. 🙂
What makes that IS elusive, but we can certainly all try! 🙂
Hmmm, I would say, compelling and interesting characters and enough teasing hints at what went on before that it might pique the reader’s interest to learn the details.
Yep. I’m with you! 🙂
I think a delicious little sub-plot in the first book (a romance?) that leads to something more significant in the second might entice a reader to ‘retrofy’ their reading.
Depends on the reader, right? A romance reader will want huge romance in book 1 … but then what do you do in book 2? 😉 But a mystery with a hint of romance and then book 2 with more … oh yeah. Bring it on. 🙂
What a thought provoking post! Aside from a dash of back story and great characterisation, a book that’s written beautifully, edited well, and has a kick ass plot will always make me look at other novels written by the same author. If I then discover the book is part of a series, I’ll most definitely read earlier books in the series/trilogy.
I have a tendency to fall in love with characters. If and when that happens, I’ll read absolutely anything and everything pertaining to them. 🙂
That’s how I am! I fall in love with the characters … or not. They will keep me coming back. 🙂
Good advice. I’m currently working on a novel based on characters from a short story collection, and I’m struggling to make it read as a standalone.
It’s hard, I know. I have a short story between LIttle White Lies and Surrender that features a subset of characters and it was tough to pare it down! Building up is often just as hard! Good luck!
I already read BOTH kick hiney books in this series, so keep me outta the drawing, but I must say I agree w/ the writing of later books – you fall in love with your characters & want to keep them around for awhile.
Great post & congrats on the pub Aimee!
Thanks, Terri! 🙂 Love your description of my books. LOL
I won’t throw my hat in the ring for the giveaway as I’ve already read the book! 🙂 I just wanted to say I enjoyed the original premise and loved the wonderful characters. Good luck to all the entries! 🙂
Thanks, Julie! 🙂
Hi Aimee, it’s nice to meet you. I think that aside from a little backstory…teasers pertaining to book 1…some of the characters in book 1 that aren’t still around could be mentioned as well. Not much of an answer, I know, but it’s the only one that my tired brain could come up with. 🙂
It’s an answer and it works! LOL 🙂
Good, because my brain isn’t in any better shape today it seems. On days like these, it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve ever written anything coherent. 🙂