I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sequels are harder than stand alones.
My first critique on THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, came back a few days ago.
There are several things I need to work on, but among them are the hardest things to do in a sequel–reintroduce elements.
Among the jobs a sequel has to do is to reintroduce characters, setting (world building, in the case of fantasy or science fiction), and any events in the earlier book(s) that will be important to the plot in this book. Ideally, this has to be done in a way that isn’t boring to a reader who has recently read the previous book, but still be enough to orient a reader who starts the series in the middle or one who doesn’t clearly remember the previous book because of elapsed time. All while keeping this plot moving at the correct pace. This is one reason why I like to have a few beta readers who did read the previous book and a few who didn’t.
Apparently, I did at least a decent job of introducing my cast of characters. (Although a chart of the complex familial relationships like this might not hurt.)
(I’ve got to figure out a way to change that into a graphic.) But I didn’t do as good a job of reintroducing the world, particularly the various cultures and how they relate–or don’t–to each other.
Now, figuring out how I can work that in without slowing down the beginning too much–that’s the next challenge.
I also have a theory that middle books in series are harder, too. Especially in fantasy. In the first book, the reader gets all the fun of discovering this new world and its magic. In the last, they get the big explosion of the series finale. It’s really hard to make the middle as interesting as either one of those.