How To Write Sequels: Setting up

Common Trilogy Pitfalls
One of the other big issues that I am constantly reminding myself of is making sure that there is a reason for Beacon: Book 2 in the Ronos Trilogy to exists other than setting things up for the big climax in book 3.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Those week middle parts of trilogies where nothing really happens. They read like the author is holding back so that the antagonism in book 2 doesn’t eclipse book 3. The result is usually no antagonism and a ton of exposition.

Hey look, I’m talking about antagonism again. Must be important.

One of the reasons I wrote a first draft of the entire trilogy before I published Catalyst is because I needed to know what level of antagonism I could take each book to. Antagonism in a climax can never be less then the one that came before it. Because I know the climax of book 1 and what it takes for Mac to get there I know how high I need to raise the stakes in book 2. I’ve also written book 3 so I know not to raise the stakes higher than that. Finding the perfect level of antagonism will help the story flow smoothly from book to book.

And by flow smoothly I mean when you put one down you are going to immeadietly want to pick up the next one until you’ve read all three.

How to Avoid the Book 2 Lull
It’s as easy as following the principles of classically told stories. Have an inciting incident. Have several big events or acts that are increasingly harder for the protagonist to overcome until you get to the climax which is an ending that will permanently change something in the protagonists life. The climax also needs to restore the balance that was upset by the inciting incident.

You need to do all that while having more antagonism than the first book and less antagonism than the third book.

Also, when I say the balance is restored I do not mean the balance that was upset in book 1 that got the whole trilogy going. I just mean the balance of book 2 is restored. That restoration is what sets up book 3.

Here is a Hunger Games example. The book 2 Inciting incident is Katniss is called into the arena again and she decides Pita Pit should survive not her. This throws her life off balance and that balance is not recovered until the end of the book when she gets out of the arena. She survives but her survival complicates things and sets up book three (which was supposed to be a full blown revolution but somehow got reduced to making TV commercials).

While I am rewriting Beacon I am focusing on keeping the story about what is happening at that moment instead of worrying about how book 3 will be set up. I don’t need to worry about book 3; it’s so exciting I’m going to be rewriting it while standing up. Truth.

All I need to worry about is meeting my self imposed deadlines so you guys can read the awesomeness of Beacon (which is nearly as exciting as book three and way more exciting than Catalyst, for yourselves. It’s a hard life being my protagonists. Poor Mac and Lynn. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s just the way good antagonism is.


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3 Responses to How To Write Sequels: Setting up

  1. Oh man. I was scrolling through your post, going, “Yeah, yeah, uh huh, okay,” and then I read the words “Pita Pit”. I kept going a sentence or so, then stopped, then read back, then laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair. Pita Pit = Peeta. Is that a thing? I want that to be a thing. Ahhh! Made my day. Thank you 🙂

    • Yes! Awesome. I’m glad it made you laugh. I don’t know if calling Peeta Pita pit is a thing. My wife and I just call him that because we think Peeta is such a lame name. Feel free to spread the word and then we can make it a thing.

  2. Pingback: How One Thing Leads To Another « booksbyjudith

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