Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What I Learned While Writing My First Sequel

I've got to be honest, here. I'm a stand alone kind of girl when it comes to writing books. That's not to say that I don't like reading sequels or have something against them in general. It's just that for me there's nothing cooler than a new idea and a clean piece of paper. I can go in any direction I want and my main character isn't someone I've gotten to know so well that I'm privvy to her every thought, feeling, and hang up.

It's uncharted waters.

It's an adventure without no known destination.

There's all of the fun and none of the long-term commitment. 

But sequels...they're linked to what's come before, limited by things that I've already set in motion. I can't change directions on a whim. AND I HATE THAT.

So imagine the kind of awful sweat I broke into when I realized that my book, GATED, had to have a sequel in order to tell my character's story fully. And I was write to sweat because this book, this sequel that I have only just now turned in? It just about killed me dead.However now that it's over and I manged to survive (barely), I realize that writing a sequel has taught me a few valuable writerly things.  Here's what I learned:

1. You gotta have game to do them right. Hats off to you sequel pros, seriously. Trying to weave backstory from book one into book two without making it ridiculously obvious and distracting? SO HARD. I rewrote my first chapter at least ten times.

2. Decisions I made for book one limited what could do for book 2. I would say that I'm an organized panster. I TRY to outline and then basically veer from it right out of the gate and never look back. I wan't thinking about book 2 until I got there. Looking back I wish I had brainstormed some possibilities for it while I was writing book 1.

3. You need a memory like an elephant or a Book Bible or you'll go crazy. I have the memory of a stick bug. I forget just about all my characters' names...yes, even the main characters...not their first names, but definitely sometimes their last. This book was a adventure in trying to remember who said what, who did what, who was with my main character in certain scenes from book 1 that she's recalling in book 2 and I wasn't very good at it.

So you're probably wondering if I'm ever gonna write another one. My answer? Yes, but I hope not for a little while. I'm ready to go back to my beautiful stand alones for now!

Blog Post Disclaimer: I am writing this on the very eve of finishing said sequel. Any and all mistakes, misspellings and rambling are entirely due to a severe sleep deficit and the kind of brain death that only comes from finally finishing a book after almost a year of writing and revisions.

Amy Christine Parker's book, GATED (formerly THE SILO), realeases with Random House Children's Fall of 2013 and follows a teenage girl named Lyla who has been living in a religious cult after the disappearance of her sister. While her parents are hopelessly under the sway of the group’s leader, Pioneer, Lyla is drawn into a dangerous situation when she begins to question Pioneer’s prophecy about the impending apocalypse. You can find her on her website, on her blog, and/or follow her on Twitter. She would absolutely love it if you added GATED on your to read list on Goodreads here.


  1. Amy, as a dyed-in-the-wool standalone writer myself, I feel your sequel pain! Congrats on getting through it, though. I can't wait to read GATED!



  2. I feel your sequel pain too, but it's what all the publishers and teens want! I have such a horrible memory that when I get my first copy of 18 Things in the mail, I'll probably read it and go, "Oh, I put that in the book?!" LOL

  3. Congratulations on getting that sequel in, Amy! I finished Book II right before Christmas. Plot was so terribly difficult for me. Dialogue, however, came ridiculously easy. And so my Book II is a ton more chatty than my Book I. Ha!