The Seven Stages of Writing a Sequel

12 Jul


AAAAAAAGH #*$#&$*#*&%# Sequels!

A Guest Post by Jill Hathaway


1. Elation – Your editor wants you to write a sequel! Everyone wants to know what happens next. They love your characters. They love the premise. They love you! O happy day!

2. Denial – It can’t really be that hard to write a sequel, right? People do it all the time. Never mind that they usually have an idea of what happens in the long run. You can figure that out as you go. You’ve done it once, and you can do it again. No sweat.

3. Hope – You have an idea. It’s the best idea evar, really. Just take your main character and send them to SPACE. Why didn’t you think of this before? It doesn’t matter that none of the other characters your audience loved from the first one will be in the sequel. Or that it’s a completely different genre from the first one. It’s brilliant, I tell you! BRILLIANT!

4. Grief – Your editor doesn’t think shooting your character into space is such a good idea? Your agent laughed in your face? Your critique partner actually threw rotten tomatoes at you? Well. It was a pretty dumb idea, wasn’t it? I mean, space? What were you thinking? You are so stupid. You’ll never come up with a good idea again. Just grab that tub of Ben & Jerry’s and retreat to your bedroom. Go wallow in your failure, dumbhead.

5. Thunder Bolt of Awesomeness – Wha? What was that? An even better idea kicked you in the head, knocking the Chubby Hubby right out of your mouth? Well, better grab a notebook! Write write write write write! Get so excited that you send your editor, your agent, your crit partner multiple unintelligible emails. WHAT? Everyone loves your idea? Then get your butt started!

6. Realization – Oh, yeah. This is what writing a book is like. The trek to the salt mines every day. The pages of uninspired prose just to get one little golden sentence. Still, you already know the characters. You already know the world. It’s just figuring out how to make something new without changing it TOO much.

7. Hope – WHAT? THERE CAN BE TWO STAGES CALLED THIS. You write “THE END.” You look over the material. It’s raw, but you think the clay is all there. You like it. You kind of love it. Your crit partner kind of loves it. You roll up your sleeves, ready to start the real work of revising. You can do this. You can. You’ve done it before, and you will again.


Jill Hathaway grew up in Iowa and received her MA in literature from Iowa State University. A high school English teacher, she lives with her husband and young daughter in the Des Moines area. You can visit her online at SLIDE, her debut, will be released from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in 2012.


10 Responses to “The Seven Stages of Writing a Sequel”

  1. authorguy July 12, 2011 at 6:19 AM #

    So here I am, stuck in stage three, hoping to give four and five a miss, and move straight into six. My editor, back when she was doing St. Martin’s Moon, told me she hoped I’d do another book with the hero, Joseph Marquand, because she thought he was just so well-developed. (I have the actual quote on my reviews page somewhere.
    The problem is that I had enough trouble writing St. Martin’s Moon in the first place, I had no idea what to do for a sequel. I’m thinking of doing a prequel instead. He starts out in SMM at his lowest ebb, it might be interesting to see how he got there.

  2. Tymcon July 12, 2011 at 6:55 AM #

    Lol, I need to finish my first novel before making a sequel. Lol I love number 4.

  3. Kat Zhang July 12, 2011 at 8:38 AM #

    WHAT? You mean I can’t send my characters into space??? Um, there goes my plot for book 2. 😉

    Thanks for writing up a post for us, Jill! Can’t wait for SLIDE.

  4. Jill Hathaway July 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM #

    Authorguy, good luck! I hope your editor loves it!

    Haha, Tymcon, that might be good. Thanks for commenting!

    Kat, actually space might be the way to go! ACROSS THE UNIVERSE was amazing! 😀

    • Kat Zhang July 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM #

      I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list! :]

  5. Vanessa Di Gregorio July 12, 2011 at 12:15 PM #

    Thanks again Jill for the awesome guest post!!! I laughed even HARDER reading it the second time! 😀

    (And #4 is my fave!)

  6. savannahjfoley July 12, 2011 at 2:05 PM #

    Writing a sequel, or the second part in a series, honestly terrifies me! What if you can’t make it work? Then you already have a contract and deadline and agh! Thanks for writing these steps 🙂

    • Jill Hathaway July 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM #

      YES. All of these things worry me.

  7. Reno Fanucci July 14, 2011 at 5:45 AM #


    Great post. This really made me chuckle.

    I guess that if you have story in mind that can be split into parts then each part could feasibly be published as a separate book?

    I am working on something at the moment that I’m sure would do just that. It struck me that some of the back story and sub plots I am using could be explored in much greater detail, resulting in a prequel and possibly as many as three sequels.

    Of course, I need to finish writing the first one before I get to carried away with any of those ideas….


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