Good Sequel, Bad Sequel: What can writers learn?

I read an example of a good sequel and a bad sequel. Might be able to learn something here if you want to write a good sequel.

In the bad sequel,

the sequel was nothing but filler. The beginning, good. The last two chapters, shocking. The middle twenty chapters were just a lot of filler to get from Point A to B in a kind of lazy way. There were a few conflicts, but only between the love interests and nothing to add to the plot or the lore of the series.

Character development was close to zero. Flat and uninteresting. No new conflicts to deal with at all. Nothing new to learn. No new mysteries. And, mysteries that were mentioned in the first book were solved by the first five chapters of the sequel, leaving the rest twenty to be kind of bland.

What’s the point of reading on if you already know all the mysteries, right? What’s the point of following a character that won’t change? What’s the point of following a plot that is doing the same thing from book one? Just a repeat episode. It followed a sad, flat pattern.

In the good sequel,

there was increasing mystery surrounding the antagonist introduced that wasn’t introduced previously. New exciting backstory that contributes to the plot. The antagonist also sent her minions so the characters had to deal with a pre-conflict before the big bang (the third book). Character development was gradual, but it was obvious. The relationships among the protagonists deepened a little bit more. It wasn’t something happening overnight.

The sequel also built on the first book, adding new information that answered some questions but brought more mysteries. It kept the plot moving along in an exciting pace, similar to the first book. By the time I’d finished reading the sequel, I could have reached for the third book right away (but I took a break πŸ˜› ).

Still am excited to get into the third book.

So, what can we learn?

We can learn what not to do by looking at the bad sequel and we can learn what we should do with the good sequel.

  1. Don’t be filler-y. Don’t write a sequel where basically nothing is happening. Relationship development should add to the plot instead sounding like a tangent. Don’t suddenly delve deep into the relationship between your MC and two other people for the sake of having a relationship story as filler. You want to keep the intrigue about the characters. You want mystery. You want to make the readers want to read the third book because they care even more about the MC and those around them.
  2. Pepper out the mysteries. Don’t solve them so quickly. Add more mysteries. Add more obstacles. Put the characters in sticky situations that will affect the overall plot. If book two is like the eye before the storm, make it an interesting eye. I don’t want to be relaxing in my hammock under the sun. I want to be relaxing, but also seeing a storm brewing over the ocean.
  3. Depending on the story, of course, and the genre, but a pre-conflict situation will add some tension. Make readers root for the characters before the big climax and then make the readers dread the “final battle” with the characters. You know in Harry Potter, there was the Battle at Hogwarts before Harry faces off one-on-one with Voldemort. Before the big climax, the big tension moment, there’s another big tension even equally big and maybe it might seem like the characters will lose their “battle”. Doesn’t have to be fantasy, of course πŸ˜‰

Well, that’s what I think we can learn from this πŸ˜› For now, anyway. If there’s anything you want to add about what should be in a good sequel, leave a comment down below! πŸ˜€

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