Mar 9, 2012

Writing a Sequel by Kim Harrington

As part of the PERCEPTION blog tour, author Kim Harrington is here to blog about the challenges of writing a sequel. Hope you enjoy! B.


Writing a Sequel

I’ll be honest. I had a blast writing PERCEPTION. Sure, sequels can be intimidating. But I loved these characters and the setting so much, I couldn’t wait to return to Clare’s world.

When writing a sequel there are small, more mechanical things you have to worry about. You have to insert enough backstory to ground the reader but not too much. Just in case someone reads book two first, you want to try your best not to spoil book one. But there are also big picture concepts to keep in mind. These are the three that guided me through the creation of PERCEPTION:


A first book sets expectations. A sequel must surpass them. The mystery has to be creepier. The romance hotter. The conflict more heart-wrenching. All the stakes need to be higher. I worked hard to make this happen and hope I succeeded.


The characters must show some growth since the first book. Not necessarily in a positive direction, but you don’t get embroiled in a dangerous mystery, almost get killed, and stay the same person. So I knew the characters had to change a bit, based on their personalities. In PERCEPTION, Starla is understandably more over-protective of her children. Clare has had an awakening of sorts and is questioning her path in life. And Perry? Well, I’ll let you find that out. The fact of the matter is that people don’t all react the same way to a similar traumatic experience and neither should characters. There have to be consequences. You don’t go through events like the ending of CLARITY without them.


While writing PERCEPTION, I didn’t know if this would be the last book in the series or not. So I had to craft it in a way that would give fans a satisfying ending. This included Clare’s romantic life. I love when people email me after reading CLARITY and say, “I just can’t choose which guy!” That’s exactly what I want. Because at that point in time Clare couldn’t choose. But, in PERCEPTION, I tried to lay a path that I hope readers can follow with Clare as she comes to her decision.

Writing a sequel was a challenge and a whole lot of fun. I truly hope you enjoy reading it!


Anna Staniszewski said...

Great tips! I just finished reading PERCEPTION and I must say that I think you did all these things right, Kim. :-)

Christina Fiorelli said...

Okay after reading all of Kim's answers I know Perception will be awesome!!

Characters who deal with the aftermath of Clarity? More conflict? More romance? Perfect!!

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent advice.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Super tips! My publisher wants the outline to my sequel in a couple weeks, and I'm trying to adhere to "sequel rules" - and this hits the nail on the head. Thanks so much!

Vivien said...

Loved this post!!! Definitely some great advice there. Too often the 'rules' are just abandoned.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Writer said...

Off topic: did you see that Francesca Lia Block is struggling to save her house. Check this out. Maybe you could post about it in case your readers can help.

Brittany said...

Gosh I need to start this series! Great post :) I'm a new follower!

ivanova said...

So true! I'm struggling with all this now. This post is great.