By J.O. Phael
In my experience, second books, especially second books in a series, are some of the most difficult books to write – though there are comforts, too.
A first book, while sometimes difficult to plot, is a triumph. There’s enthusiasm and energy around building a new world, new characters, and deciding where the story is going to take them.
When you get to the second book, though, there is a whole new set of worries. The characters are established and you have to make sure you stick to who they are, as well as the elements and feel of the series you’ve established. Timelines and plot points have to match up, as well as back stories and facts you dropped in the first book.
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If it’s been a while since you’ve written the first one, you also might end up feeling a little disconnected from the world you’ve built. It’s like an actor having to get back into the headspace of a role it’s been years since they’ve played. For myself, I also sometimes suffer from a lack of enthusiasm. I’ve written these characters before, already explored this story.
Second Books Make for Familiar Friends
Sure, as creatives (and I think people in general) we have a tendency to be pulled towards the new, and there’s never a shortage of story ideas, but there can be something very comfortable about second books, too.
The characters feel like old friends, you know who they are and where the story is taking them. If it’s not part of series, there’s always the knowledge that, yes, you can finish it, it’s going to work, because you’ve done it before. And, if you’re lucky, there might even be people out there waiting to read it.
I use that energy, and a deep love of the characters I develop to continue through the second book. Once two are done in a series, it’s usually much easier to keep going. Sometimes they just fall in place one right after the other.