Sequels are known for not always being as good as their predecessors. I think it’s because there’s an almost invisible pressure to make sure it lives up to the first.
The problem is, this pressure can cause the writer to try too hard and the sequel goes kaput and doesn’t turn out as good.
Writers also seem to think the events of Book #1 need to be referenced in #2, whether it’s important to #2’s plot or not.
This trend of recapping is not necessary. (Yes, I call it a trend because I’ve seen it several times) (especially in series that are pretty formulaic)
Readers do not want to begin the next book only to be given a recap of what happened in the first. They’ve already read it and know what happened. There’s no need to remind them unless the events of the first book influence the plot, character development, or character relationships in the second book.
If something from the first book does become important to the second, then recapping is necessary. But don’t do it an overhanded way. Subtlety is key.
A sequel’s plot does not need to be a repeat plot of the first book.
We’ve all read that one series where the plots of each book were all similar to each other. True, they had some differences, but if you were to take those differences away, they’d pretty much be the same story.
What sequels should do is grow what you’ve already established in the first book.
Think of your series as a puzzle. Each book is one piece of the larger picture. The events in them are the middle pieces while the overarching storyline is the edge pieces holding them together. Even with episodic series, there will always be an overarching storyline: the relationship between the characters.
And like puzzle pieces, each book should be different. The consequences of the ending of the first book are not going to repeat what happened in the first book. They’re going to open a new can of worms, which will then lead to different consequences, which will then open a new can of worms for the third book.
Sequels should not retread old ground unless absolutely necessary, and even then, it should be treated with subtlety.
Sequels are puzzle pieces to the larger picture. They should be building onto the puzzle, not trying to fit where they can’t.
Tell me your thoughts below!