Any of you who witnessed the pathetic amount of whining I did last year know that writing sequels is … rather hard. (okay, fine, if you follow me on Twitter you've seen me back to whining again)
1) Playing upon reader expectations is a surefire way to build killer tension
2) When you go a completely different way, it keeps the reader guessing and keeps the plot fresh and unpredictable
3) When you *don't* do what the reader is fearing, it helps them to TRUST you, and stick around when you put them through all the horrible evil things they never saw coming (have I mentioned writers are evil?)
So THAT has become my goal when I build the plots for my sequels. I try and figure out what I think readers are going to fear most as I go into the story (which isn't that hard to do. Usually it's all the same things I fear) and then I try to shape the plot in a way that makes them wonder if I'm going to go that way. And right when it's starting to look like, “oh noes–SHE IS!” I go a different route instead.
It's NOT an easy thing to do and it hurts my brain a lot (like, a LOT, lot) but I get SUPER gleeful when I get messages from my beta readers saying things like, “If thing X happens I am NEVER SPEAKING TO YOU AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!” followed a bit later by, “Oh, good, we can still be friends–BUT WAIT, WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH THING Y???????” so hopefully that means I pulled it off. I guess I won't know for sure until my sequels are out there in the wild (which in EXILE's case is only one week away now–holy cow, how did that happen???).
But I thought I'd throw this info out there anyway, in case it's helpful to any of you. If nothing else, maybe it'll explain why you see me whining about sequels so very very much, and why I disappear down the drafting rabbit hole and struggle so much as I fight my way back out. And why I eat so many cupcakes. That's the best writing advice of all. EAT MORE CUPCAKES.
*places an emergency cupcake order and goes back to drafting KEEPER 3*
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