SECOND BOOK FATIGUE
Lmao reading my last post and then reading this post is gonna feel like whiplash 😀
Because a week ago I was feeling all YAY about Book 2 and now I’m like UGH about everything, which is actually a really normal writerly feeling (writers you know what I’m talking about). Actually the YAY and UGH are always kind of battling each other while writing a novel in general, regardless of which book in the series, or if it’s even part of the series. But there’s a special extra little bit of UGH that comes with writing the second book in a series. I’m thinking that’s probably because you’ve got less time (gotta meet deadlines now that you’ve got a publication date) and more pressure (ofc it has to be a good follow up to the first totally awesome book!).
When writing book 2 there are certain things you gotta keep in mind. Here’s a few that I’ve put on my list – and maybe it can help those of you going through the same thing (or those of you just curious about the writing process):
This has to do with worldbuilding, character motivations and all sorts of junk that makes the internal logic of your story make sense in the readers’ head. Changing things around or forgetting your rules can be a headache for the reader and for you later one when it’s time to write more books. It can end up leaving tons of plot holes if you’re not careful. To keep things from slipping through the cracks, it’s helpful to have a spreadsheet or some kind of database that helps you remember something. Mine totally looks cool, it’s got highlights and shorthands and everything. Not only is it fun to check out later on, but it’ll really help you add those little details that makes the book feel more immersive.
Let things Evolve!
Being consistent doesn’t mean keeping things stagnant. You introduced readers to your world in the first book, but in the second book they want to know more – more about the characters and more about the world. Let things evolve from what you’ve set up in book 1, and add things in a way that keeps the internal logic of the story sound. What I love most about reading series is seeing characters and their motivations evolve throughout the book. You don’t want your characters – and especially your protagonist to stay the same with the same conflicts. Her relationship with the people around her is bound to change, her world is bound to grow wider and yes, wilder. Keep things moving, keep things growing.
Raise your stakes!
This should happen naturally as you craft your plot and figure out where the story is going. You need to add more conflict and keep the plot moving. You don’t want the same conflicts in the first book and you want the readers to know that the world around your MC is getting more dangerous, and the choices she has to make are more difficult. If you think about Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back and how tense things became even amidst the fun and games you can get a sense of what the second Act needs to be.
Don’t put in Too Much Filler!
The one thing I never quite liked about second books in certain series is the kind of meandering-ness – like nothing really happening, as if the plot is still trying to figure things out. You don’t want to bore anyone with a pace that’s too slow. But –
Don’t Put in Too Little Filler!
I think if the second book is a good place to learn more about the world and the characters more deeply while we keep track of the evolving relationships and evolving aspects of the world, there will be room for us to explore a little bit. When I think back to my fave SFF novels as well, taking a bit of time to explore is actually part of what makes the world feel immersive. The key is this shouldn’t be done at the expense of the plot!
I mean it goes without saying right? Have fun playing around in your world, have fun raising the stakes – don’t let things get too calculated, too strict. Remember how it felt to write your first book with no pressure and just let yourself bask in the glorious fun that comes with the hard work of writing!
And of course: EDIT EDIT EDIT.
Well, this is some of what I’ve been keeping in mind while writing book 2. Got anything to add? Let me know in the comments 🙂