WriterDojo S3 Ep21: Sequels

Many authors struggle to follow up on a first book. What are the expectations and requirements for a good sequel and how do you meet them? Hosts/Authors  Steve Diamond and Larry Correia dive deeper into a question asked by one of our awesome supporters that was so good, it needed its own full episode.

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“Word Mercenaries” (the WriterDojo theme) is by Craig Nybo

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This week’s episode of the WriterDojo is sponsored by Steve Diamond’s paranormal thriller Residue

Residue follows 17-year-old Jack Bishop after his father is abducted and a monster is let loose in his small town. As he looks for his father, he begins to notice that he can see the psychic residue left behind by monsters and murder victims. Along with the mind-reading Alexandra (Alex) Courtney, Jack uses his growing ESP abilities to stop the deaths in the town, and find out why his father was taken.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3XHfbQP (affiliate link)

WriterDojo S3 Ep22: Titles (& Why We Suck At Them)
Swag Shop 4th Quarter 2022

7 thoughts on “WriterDojo S3 Ep21: Sequels”

  1. I’m not sure that it’s fair to blame those two authors for destroying the ability of “first books” to sell. I’m not sure when I decided that I wouldn’t buy another first book in a trilogy until it was complete but I know that it was pre-George because I specifically thought, and remember this clearly, “Hey, his trilogy is done” and bought all three of the Game of Thrones books.

    Yeah. About that.

    Anyway, it’s still true that I had *already* decided not to buy an incomplete series BEFORE that happened.

    1. I so find myself thinking of series like The Wheel of Time books. The author was releasing them at a good clip, but the story was so huge that he didn’t make it to the end.

      I actually remember hearing about it, finding out the author had passed before finishing it, and didn’t even start on the first book. Only picked it up earlier this year after finding out that it had been finished by another author, and that the author had done a very good job of it, via the whole discussion of the Brian Sanderson kickstarter.

      I think it is more a problem that so many fantasy series have turned into the mega-epics that require reading all 452 books to reach the end of.

      Even if they are fantastic and the author has great work ethic, things happen and they don’t get done, or worse, write them selves into corners where they can’t come to a satisfactory conclusion at all (see Game of Thrones and Mass Effect).

      I’ve really come to prefer more self-contained books in a series, where even if there are multi-book arcs, they’re maybe three to five reasonable length novels.

      I’ve really loved how Bujold handled it in the Vorkosigan novels. You can pretty much pick up any of them and have a good novel. You don’t need to read all of them to enjoy any of them, but there are more there, and they do add to eachother.

      My favorite example is the scene with the koi pond. Miles is dating a lady, and they’re goofing around, and she end up tripping off the foot bridge into the koi pond. Miles flips over into full ‘never again’ mode, and tries to catch her before she goes over. They both end up in the water, laughing at it, and he realizes the other time someone went overboard, he couldn’t have saved them even if he had caught them, and comes to terms with it.

      By itself, it’s a beautiful scene, with just enough information to know where he is coming from, but there is also the story where the original incident actually happened, and he watched someone he loved fall to the death because in his mind, he could not catch them. (Both of his hands were broken.)

      Each scene stands on its own, but together they form this incredible character arc.

      I think a lot of it is things happen to the characters and the characters may not talk about it, but they do not forget and it drives their choices and their actions well after the original event.

      1. Yes. Bujold did a fabulous job at writing a series of self-contained stories. David Weber, too.

        There were a lot of “trilogies” published back when that not only didn’t wrap up a story line but ended on a cliff-hanger. The “trilogy” would be actually one story, not three. And because the only way to get them was a book store if you missed an installment or missed the first one you were out of luck, and if you actually got each of them as they came out and even if the author published reliably, you had to wait a year to find out how it all ended. One story in multiple books over the course of years was a BAD marketing idea.

        1. Oh, I should say, I think that Indies could do an old fashioned trilogy with one story and three books, even with cliff-hangers at the end of the first two if they were published one a month. Buying from Amazon now, even in paper, means that once a series like that was complete, each book would remain available.

        2. Yes, I remember that with the trilogy. It actually really burned me on trilogies a pre-teen for a while, as my library frequently didn’t have all the stories and the nearest book stores was an hour away.

      2. Yeah, I actually stopped WoT most of the way through and ignored the subsequent published books. Not because it was massive tomes that spanned 40 million novels, but because after book 5 or so less and less actually happened in each book. My last book I read the ENTIRE book was all the other people around the word responding to final event of the last book. The plot only advanced in the last chapter, and I just didn’t care anymore, particularly because the cliff hanger was based upon a character I could barely stand doing something utterly foolish. I always told myself I’d go back if he could actually get an actual plot moving and wrap it up, but by the time Sanderson finished it I just didn’t care about the series anymore.

        And I think that has infected Epic Fantasy a lot. Not much happens, the plot sort of meanders talking about some random farmer’s cows, the origin of the not-goblins, and discussing the consistency of dog crap, and I find myself wondering “who cares?” It has made me cautious on new fantasy novels, and so I tend to look at the buzz from others if I’m trying a new author.

  2. I point out a great many states actually enforce oral contracts, so it can indeed not be written down and still be a contract.

    On the Sophomore Slump and inverse, I actually think the original MHI is EASILY the worst book of Larry Correia’s I’ve read. It’s good, but Vendetta is way better. And on sequel wraps: I felt Bloodline’s didn’t wrap up ONE thing well enough, and that was how Operation Siege as a whole went beyond just Owen’s quest (Did the hunters actually get to claim their PUFF, domestic and foreign? How many people died? How chaotic did the homefront get with all the veterans pulled from duty?)

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