How to write a sequel to a novel with a kick-a** setting

Some background is probably needed to understand the title of this post. Basically, I recently re-discovered the joys of the library, and one of the books I brought home to read over Christmas was Matched by Ally Condie.

Now, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were good, but the reason I really liked it was because the dystopian society in the book was cool. It’s kind of like The Giver meets Brave New World meets … a generic YA novel (because of the obligatory love triangle). Anyway, the society was awesome.

And then I picked up the sequel, Crossed. I was obviously excited to read it, because I enjoyed the first book so much. But I quickly realized one very tragic fact — this book isn’t set in the dystopian society, it’s set in some weird chasm/valley place. And it’s great that the characters are running around and developing their personalities and overcoming adversity and so on, but I liked Matched because of the setting. Without the setting, I’ve lost interest in the characters and in the book.

It’s the same concept as the seventh Harry Potter book. The first six were amazing because it was set at freakin’ Hogwarts. Who hasn’t dreamed of going there, with the moving staircases and paintings, ghosts, Quidditch, etc.? But then book seven comes along, and suddenly we’re wandering around the wilderness for what feels like forever. I get that Harry had to leave Hogwarts due to that pesky little thing called “plot”, but imagine how much more awesome book 7 could have been if he’d stayed at Hogwarts.

Therefore, I present to you my very simple rule for writing a sequel to a book with a kick-a** setting:

Keep the story in the kick-a** setting. If you have to leave the kick-a** setting due to the plot, get back there ASAP.

I guess this rule can be waived if you come up with an even more awesome setting for the characters to go to. But that doesn’t seem to happen very often, so stick to the original rule when at all possible.

That’s all for now. I’ve once again fallen behind on my work and need to spend the day catching up. Adios, mi amigos!

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38 thoughts on “How to write a sequel to a novel with a kick-a** setting

  1. Thanks Michelle.
    My vampire sequel will be in the same setting but then they start moving around. I was going to end in a different setting. Now I’m going to rethink it or see if it is truly necessary.

    • Well, I mean, this rule only really applies if your original setting is really cool – aka Hogwarts-level cool. As in, the setting is so amazing that it’s almost a character in itself. If your vampires are just hanging out in a normal town, then I personally think you can have them go wherever they want 🙂 Let me know what you decide!

      • I’m going to let them move around. They live outside a itsy bitsy town in Washington. They move around the US and England in the sequel. I’m making note though, in case I ever do write an amazing setting. 😀

  2. Makes sense to me Michelle – your post I mean! But there again I find the whole Potter thing a pita, Hogwarts (whatever they are) or not.

    • Yay! I make sense! I don’t usually, so this is a fairly monumental day for me 😀

      Also, I have no idea what “pita” means. Other than, like, pita bread. Is it some slang I don’t know of? I’m so unhip.

  3. Oh dear, my sequel shoots around all manner of different settings. I’ll need to make sure they’re suitably awesome 🙂

    • Do it! I believe setting awesomeness can be judged by the simple question: “Would I want to visit this place?” If the answer is No, then it’s probably not awesome. Unless, of course, your setting is an awesome zombie barren wasteland, in which case it’s still cool, but you definitely wouldn’t want to go there (unless you’re a zombie, obviously).

  4. My sequel is set in the same place – the only problem is that I’ve had to temporarily switch my first person POV (pesky plot…) from female to male and can only hope it still appeals… 😦

    • Temporarily? Does that mean you’re switching it back? Is this one of those interactive books, where you can choose which ending you want to read? Because that would be awesome.

  5. Papizilla

    Reblogged this on The Ranting Papizilla and commented:
    More ideas my peeps. Can’t hurt to have an awesome setting to begin with. Enjoy.

  6. I loved this post, I thought it was extremely interesting because I had almost the same exact reaction with Matched and Crossed, as well as Delirium (by Lauren Oliver) its’ sequel. It’s what makes me afraid of 2nd books!

  7. Fun post with a very interesting opinion/observation. Shall indeed think more about setting when moving on to writing sequels, though none of my settings are overly awesome. Not to Hogwarts extent, anyway.

  8. Good rule. I’m keeping this one in mind as I write my own sequel– although the kick-a setting is the place they’re trying to escape from!

    • Haha oh dear. You might have to break my rule after all. I guess you’ll just have to make sure the place they’re escaping to is equally awesome.

      • I did plan for them to go back…because they have to rescue the others! Haha. I’ll try to keep things interesting at any rate 🙂

  9. Yup. In HP its always in Hogwarts, and a familiar setting as such makes it feel like the previous book is not yet over.

    • You know, you’re absolutely right. I’ve never thought of it that way. Thank you for enlightening me!

      Now to go read Harry Potter … 😀

  10. I try not to read book trilogies or series. One simple reason is that I feel like I’m left hanging, which is the point–I know. But I have to wait one year to find out what happens, only to be caught in another cliff hanger. YUCK! I do, however, like series books if they are individual books based off the same characters like Patterson’s Daniel X series. Oh, Michelle, if you haven’t read James Pattersons’ Daniel X series, you should. Awesome alieness and fast paced

    • Just looked at Daniel X on Wikipedia — it sounds fun! My only problem with James Patterson is that I read one of his books — Witch and Wizard — and I HATED it. Now, obviously every author has a bad day, so I suppose I should give him a second chance 🙂

      • I didn’t like the Witch and Wizard series, and really don’t like his Alex Cross books, but I found the Daniel X books to be fun, especially the first one. My son, who hates to read, loved the books and keeps an eye out in case more come around. I would at least suggest the very first book

        • I shall pay a visit to my local library and check it out! Well, I’ll pay a visit once I get a piece of mail from my new address so I can renew my library card and therefore borrow books.

  11. Hogwarts was pretty awesome for a setting. I have the idea for a really kickarse one if I ever get time to do a novel…

    • Ok, well now you have to write it so I can read it!

      What was your favourite Hogwarts immersion? The movies were fun, but what really put me inside Hogwarts was the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets game for the PS2, Ever played it? It’s absolutely fantastic. You basically wander around Hogwarts solving puzzles, casting spells, and being awesome. And I had some awesome dreams after an evening of playing that game, which made it even better 😀

      • Never did play any of the games. I enjoyed the movies and books a great deal though 🙂

        • Well, if you ever have the chance, and if you ever get access to a PS2, buy the Chamber of Secrets game. It’s SO fun. Words can’t even describe how much I love it. I actually lost track of my copy a few years ago, but my friend just bought a new copy for me for Christmas. Woo!

  12. Great point! Settings are like characters, you don’t want too many or your reader gets confused. Some action thrillers move around so much I forget what country the character’s in.

    • Yes! That happens for me a lot with James Bond movies. I am incapable of keeping track of where they are at any given time. For example, I know in Casino Royale that James Bond was in a casino … possibly in Europe? And that’s it, lol. Oh, and there was possibly a beach involved.

      Or maybe I just need to pay more attention? 😀

  13. Nah! Well, yes, I agree. But nah to the Harry potter comparison. JK had us all by the 6th book. Who was not going to read the 7th book because Harry left Hogwarts? Seriously! And besides, she did follow your rule of getting back there (sort of) ASAP, for the final battle with He Who Calls Himself Voldemort, the Dark Lord.
    But I agree, a visit back to the awesome setting is always very cool. 🙂

    • Oh, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have ready HP7, just saying I think it would have been better if there was less camping and more Hogwarts 😀

  14. Made me chuckle, this one. I haven’t read Matched but I completely agree about Harry Potter. So keep the super setting or, like in His Dark Materials, invent a new funky amazing, kick-a** worthy place!

    • I’m ashamed to admit I never read past The Golden Compass. Everyone keeps telling me to read the rest of series. I think it might be time to buckle down and do as I’m told 😀

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  17. I’m late with this, I know, but the topic made me think of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. The setting is definitely the main asset — so weird, and full of grotesque, interesting inhabitants. I love the first two books, but had to force myself to read the third one and hated it, because the main character, Titus (whom I didn’t like much, actually) left Gormenghast, never to return. But I recommend the first two books — Gormenghast and Titus Groan.

    • I have never heard of these books, but they sound awesome from the title alone. Titus Groan? Fantastic. It reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, although I suspect the contents of the two books are slightly different 🙂

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