I’ve finished The West Queen, or at least stopped writing any more on it for now, and started on book two. Typically you are told to start your story as late as possible and as close to action as possible. But does that hold for book two or three?
Each book in a series needs to captivate and pull the reader in regardless if it is book one or book twenty one. Immediate action lures a reader in and makes them decide early if they want to invest or not. The second book in a series must still be entertaining and a reader must feel they have gotten their money’s worth.
The second book in a series is a continuation of book one. The reader has already invested in the story having read the first book and bought the second. But there may have been some considerable time betwee the release of book one and book two. If you have an ongoing story with characters and situations that span books you need to make sure the reader is brough up to date before confusing them with action.
The best solution
The best would be to use action to recap the events of previous books. What am I doing? I haven’t decided yet but I have started writing what I am tentatively calling chapter one. I’m starting where I left off in book one and using conversation and character thought to recap the main plot points of book one. Some feedback I got from book one was that there seemed to be things going on only in my head and not on the page. That is to say several things are mentioned in oblique reference only and the readers had to double back to check they hadn’t missed something. The suggestion was to have more sections devoted to explaining what’s going on. Have characters discuss their situation more and delve into the thoughts and reactions of them. This is exactly one of the things I needed feedback on. There are a lot of different things going on in The West Queen. Some are obvious and some are more subtle but they all dance and weave around the core story. In some ways I intentionally kept parts of the book a bit of a mystery but I don’t want the reader to shrug and give up. I want them to be intrigued and hungry to know where things are headed.
My currently planned chapter two fires into the action. It brings some characters only talked about in book one into the picture. I didn’t want to start with this chapter as it has the two new characters and I didn’t want to make readers wonder what was going on. But if I have to I can lead with it to get into the action quicker and recount some aspects of book one through the perspectives of these new characters which might be refreshing.
What about you?
Are there other ways to start a sequel? Any examples of something different?