why writing a sequel scares me

When I finished writing Blogger Girl, I was sad to say goodbye to Kim, Nicholas, Bridget and the rest of the cast of characters (even condescending Hannah and evil Daneen), but I moved on to writing How Do You Know? on the assumption that Blogger Girl, like Just Friends with Benefits and A State of Jane before it, would be a stand-alone novel.

To date, Blogger Girl has not been my best-selling novel, but it has been a fan favorite. Soon after the book was released, fans made it very clear they wanted more. Since I had developed the character of Kim in Blogger Girl leaving her significant room for growth, both from a romantic and professional standpoint, I decided to grant readers their wish. I am proud to announce that the first draft of the follow up, Novel Girl, is almost complete and barring any extraordinary circumstances, I should be able to release it before the apple next drops in Times Square. (It’s worth noting that while the book takes off where the first one left off, I’m writing it in such a way that it can stand on its own too.)

It has been a blast reacquainting myself with the characters and finding new ways to torture…I am challenge… them and I’m excited to share Novel Girl with the people who loved Blogger Girl and hopefully a whole new audience of readers too. On the flip side, I’m terrified. Granted, with each of my books, I feared readers wouldn’t like it or would compare it unfavorably to my other books, but writing a sequel comes with the added pressure of meeting and, hopefully, exceeding the expectations of readers who loved the first installment. If a sequel fails, readers often wish it had never been written at all, especially if the first installment had a happily-ever-after. Sometimes it’s better to leave the characters in that permanent state of bliss than reintroduce them to the world and not do them justice.

Whenever I read a glowing review of Blogger Girl that calls out a favorite plot twist or aspect of the book, it is with a mix of delight and dread as the plot twists are naturally different in Novel Girl. I couldn’t write the same book twice, obviously, so I have taken the characters in different directions and thrown distinctive bumps in their journeys. I believe readers will have as much fun reading the second book as they did the first, but part of me is afraid of disappointing them. I am certainly putting as much care and thought into Novel Girl as I did with Blogger Girl as I am determined to do it justice and then some. I hope readers will be happy I wrote it and not wish I left well enough alone. My money is on the former, but I’ve never been much of a betting woman!

An avid reader myself, I’ve also been both pleased and underwhelmed by sequels of my favorite books. What about you? What are some of your favorite/least favorite sequels?

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Comments

  1. I loved Blogger Girl and look forward to reading Novel Girl!!

  2. I’m 3/4 the way through Blogger Girl and I’m thrilled to read there will be a sequel, Meredith. Great news indeed!

  3. I’m currently writing a sequel as well, and I can relate with your fear of not living up to the first one. I wish you much success with Novel Girl, I know it will be great!

  4. I remember reading- and loving- Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. I picked up Little Altars Everywhere (which I believe was actually written before Divine Secrets) and didn’t care for it. In fact, had I read it first, I never would have picked up Divine Secrets. So I can understand your trepidation.

    I can say, in general though, that I have enjoyed most sequels if the characters stay true to what I liked about them initially.

    I’m excited to read Novel Girl!

    • I have several examples myself, especially Revenge Wear Prada. I didn’t think it did the first one justice but, like you, have enjoyed many sequels too. I will keep your comments in mind as I review and revise my first draft 🙂

  5. You know I’m thrilled you’re writing a sequel! I can see how you’d be scared, as an author, that the readers won’t love book 2 as much as the first, because I’m sometimes worried about that as a reader. I don’t think you have anything to be worried about though as BLOGGER GIRL really lends itself well to a sequel and so many of us are (impatiently) waiting for it! I can’t wait! 🙂

  6. paulinewiles says:

    Yes, I agree that sequels definitely bring their own challenges, especially one that you want to stand on its own where necessary, too.
    I think Joanne Phillips did a great job with The Family Trap, her sequel to Can’t Live Without, in referencing the first book without relying on it.
    On the other hand, I seem to remember the second Bridget Jones book left me very underwhelmed and the movie script was significantly different.
    That said, if your readers are begging for a sequel, and you’ve come up with some great new problems for your characters, I think you’ll be just fine!

    • Hi Pauline – I agree that it is so important to be able to find the balance between giving enough information about the first one so that people who are reading the second as a stand alone won’t be confused without giving too much history and boring the people who did read the first one or stalling the pace of the second one. Hopefully, I’ve done that well, although I’m sure my beta readers will let me know. I agree that I wasn’t a fan of the second Bridget Jones book, although I did adore the third one.

  7. Sequels are so tricky, especially when you have high reader demand for them. In those cases, I find that readers generally already know what they want to happen, so you risk disappointing them, big-time. Then again, you’re also in the position to grant their wish and just might knock their socks off, and that’s pretty darn special.

  8. Brea Brown’s THE SECRET KEEPER series is one of the best I’ve ever read. I actually cried reading the last book. Meri, I have loved all of your novels, and Kim and Nicholas have stayed with me since I finished BLOGGER GIRL. I cannot wait to read the sequel and have no doubt it will be as amazing as all of your books.

  9. Characters need to grow in the sequel or it becomes just a repeat of the first. I’m confident you’ll take this in a good direction!

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