I always wanted Cinderella’s Dress to have a sequel, but the publisher only bought the first book, and had a “wait and see” approach about the second. During the editing process, whenever I saw a thread that would work well as a reveal in the sequel, I’d put in a note saying something like: “I could say this here….but it would be more interesting if it came out in the sequel.” Hint, hint. Wink, wink.
Fortunately, my editor was interested in the sequel, so she let me hold back on some of those reveals, which gave me hope there would be a book two. However, I still had to end book one in a satisfying enough way that should sales not pan out and the second book not get picked up, readers wouldn’t be disappointed that they’d never find out some big plot point.
*Then SHOES was greenlighted*
When I started writing SHOES I only had a general idea of where I wanted the story to go. I hadn’t created a detailed outline for SHOES before finishing DRESS because I’d read advice that said not to plan too much because the first book might get edited so deeply that you will end up having to rewrite too much in the sequel. I’m still undecided about that advice because nothing big changed, and I could have worked ahead. But I did learn a few other things.
Here are five tips I learned about writing a sequel:
1. Re-read the first book and take notes. You would be surprised at some of the details you’ve forgotten, especially if you made changes late in the editorial process and your brain keeps remembering the original way you wrote certain details. (I’m sure if I went head-to-head in a trivia contest about my book with a fan, I might lose.) After I wrote the first draft of SHOES and completed one edit pass, I went back to DRESS to read them both back to back.
2. Watch out for repetitions. You don’t want to repeat the first book. It’s easy to slip into comfortable character behaviors because you are familiar with them. Actually, I think this point goes for writing any next novel, whether it is a sequel or not. Just like we can inadvertently repeat words, we can inadvertently repeat dialogue or plot points or character interactions.
3. Create repetitions! I’m talking about the good kind—“plants” that you intentionally or unintentionally wrote earlier in the series. I love it when I’m reading a series and something seemingly inconspicuous in the first book comes up again in another book. As a reader, it gives me a “that was cool”moment, and I think: “Clever, very clever, Ms. Author!”
4. Get someone who has never read the first book to read the second and see if they understand it. Although I, personally, could never start a series mid-stream, some readers do! My publisher had two editors on each book, but with SHOES one of the editors was new. She was very good at pointing out places that weren’t sufficiently explained. This is also helpful for readers who read the first book a year ago and also need a refresher to remember who all the players are.
5. Learn what readers loved about the first book, and if it matches your vision, give them more of that. I’m not a big fan of reading reviews after a book comes out because reviews are really more for readers than writers (and often the advice is contradictory!). Once the book is published there is nothing you can do to change what it is. But when you are writing a series, you do get to take that feedback and respond accordingly. If the people want more dragons—give them more dragons!
Readers love series books. They love to find out what happened next to the characters they came to know in the first book. As for writers, series books are fun to write, too. We become attached to our characters so it’s a pleasure to send them off on new adventures. I hope you find at least one of these tips helpful if you ever get the opportunity to write a sequel.
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The war may be over, but Kate Allen’s life is still in upheaval. Not only has she discovered that Cinderella was real, but now she’s been made Keeper of the Wardrobe, her sole responsibility to protect Cinderella’s magical dresses from the greed of the evil stepsisters’ modern descendants.
But Cinderella’s dresses are just the beginning. It turns out that the priceless glass slippers might actually exist, too, and they could hold the power to reunite lost loved ones like her father—missing in action since World War II ended. As Kate and her boyfriend, Johnny, embark on an adventure from
New York to Italy and Poland in search of the mysterious slippers, they will be tested in ways they never imagined.
Because when you harness Cinderella’s magic, danger and evil are sure to follow…
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