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Catch Metamorphosis Literary Agency Author Brent Hartinger's Sequels Article on Writer's Digest


Writing Sequels: 7 Rules for Writing Second Installments

Your first book was well received—hooray! But how can you ensure success when writing sequels? These 7 secrets will help you pen part two with finesse.



Why are there so few great sequels? In the realm of movies, rare favorites include Toy Story2 and 3, The Dark Knight, and Aliens. Among books, The Da Vinci Code was a terrific sequel to Angels & Demons (The Lost Symbol didn’t quite draw the same attention).


Note that writing the next book in a series is not necessarily the same as writing a sequel, because the overarching story line of a series is usually conceived in advance. With a sequel, writers are often starting from scratch with a new, independent plotline, often in response to reader demand. As a result, sequels can be difficult. They present certain advantages—namely, they’re much easier to market out the gate—but they also come with a host of challenges, the worst of which is often sky-high expectations.


How do you write a sequel without disappointing fans of the original? Here are seven rules I’ve learned through my own experience:


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