July 17, 2003

Should you write a sequel?

Someone asked -- while still deep in the middle of writing their first novel -- if they should write a sequel when they finished. It's a question I hear a lot. After some thought, I decided I'd repeat this phrase:


This is what my editor keeps saying to me and I know she's right, although it doesn't always help.

Finish the novel you're working on before worrying about the next one.

1. You want to make the one you're working on the best darn book you can, and pre-planning for sequel might weaken it. Oh, you might say, I can't kill this character here because I *planned* to kill him in the sequel. Bleah. Act like there is no second book to make THIS book the best possible.

2. By the time you finish this book, you might HATE the world and need time off before you go back to liking the world. It's hard to stay in love with a world as you polish, polish, polish the first novel.

3. What you write now might radically change what you want to do with a sequel. Maybe you decide killing off all the characters would be best for this book, and thus any thinking now of a sequel would be wasted effort. I had to throw 30,000 words of book four away when I got done with book three.

Okay, once you're done with one novel, got it polished, and start sending it out, THEN is the time to consider "What's my next project."

If you decide its a sequel, great! There is no wasted writing, and if you do sell the first, then you're ahead of the game. I would recommend, however, that the sequel is a completely stand alone novel. I did not sell my first or second novel. ALIEN TASTE was the third novel I wrote. I decided that I didn't want my future to ride on selling the Ukiah Oregon Series and wrote a stand alone in another universe. When ALIEN TASTE did sell, they wanted a sequel -- so I kind of missed the boat there -- but they gave me time to write it. The novel I had written in the meantime was A BROTHER'S PRICE, which ROC bought and will release next year.

So no matter what you write, you'll probably be facing a win-win situation, so don't worry about it now. Think only about the book you are writing now.


Posted by wen at July 17, 2003 09:57 AM

Please write a sequel to Tinker. Finished reading it today brilliant!


Posted by: Peter Hull at October 12, 2003 06:05 AM