What Do You Look for in a Sequel?


Sometimes you think you have this


When you really have this









So this is the big question that actually started my idea for these types of posts.  Since Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower is a sequel, I’m really curious to see what people say.

Personally, I like consistency and growth.  The characters from the earlier books have to act like they did before, but change as the story progresses.  A sudden change of personality between books is jarring to me and makes the early book feel unconnected.  It’s essential to make sure your books feel connected if they hold the same characters and places.

I also look for continuity and it’s something I worry about a lot in my own books.  For example, I switched Luke Callindor’s eye color in the second book and it took me 3 editing runs to realize it.  He has green eyes and I made him blue.  Though, I’m looking into a way to change that since I realized two other champions have green.  Can’t do it until the sixth when something happens to him.  That’s a story for next year if things keep going smoothly.

The third thing I like in a sequel are new characters and locations.  Staying in the same place gets boring and you need fresh voices.  Without these things, you’re probably going to rehash the first story.  For locations, it can make sense to stay in the same place if the plot is about defending a central location.  Still, show different areas of that place or have a small excursion to the surrounding region.  Otherwise, it feels like the author has no depth to the world.

So, what do you look for in a sequel?  What’s the best and worst sequel you’ve ever seen or read?

Don’t forget!  Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower will debut tomorrow.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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34 Responses to What Do You Look for in a Sequel?

  1. tyroper says:

    I like consistency and growth as well. It is interesting to learn more about the characters. Biggest reason I will watch/read a sequel is because I like the characters. Setting is interesting, but it’s the characters that hook me. Looking forward to more of Fritz.


  2. sknicholls says:

    Story arc. I want to see either characters carry over to lengthen the story of the characters, or I want to see the plot carry over to continue the drama. (even if some of characters must get killed off).


  3. L. Marie says:

    Definitely one for consistency and growth as others have mentioned. Sadly, some trilogies have a weak bridge book where little of consequence happens, as if the author didn’t have enough story for three books and had to squeak out a book just to meet the “trilogy” requirement. I don’t like sequels where the author completely changes the personality of a major character just for the sake of conflict, unless we’re talking about a cliffhanger situation like Picard turning into a Borg. I love, however, when an author keeps raising the stake (ala The Empire Strikes back). I also like a decent amount of back story so that technically the book could stand on its own and has enough of an ending to satisfy.

    Love The Two Towers by Tolkien, Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde—books that say, “This series keeps getting better.”


    • That second book can be a killer. Finding the sweet spot among growth, suspense, and leaving room for the finale. I think a lot of movies are suffering from weak third acts where you feel like they are simply wrapping up. So you can’t make your second act too strong to follow.


  4. Good luck with the sale, great writing. AJM


  5. howanxious says:

    One of the best sequels, I have read, is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. And one of the worst would be New Moon(Twilight series).
    What I look forward to in a sequel is a little deep understanding of the characters’ mind. By the end of the first book, you befriend a character and you want to know more about him. There must be certain new characters to add a little bit of anonymity. And another thing is that it has to be moving the story ahead rather than bringing it to a halt… and there has to be a little more adventure in the sequel and at least one twist that would surprise the readers. The Reaping of 75th Hunger games did that for me.
    My favorite fantasy author is Rick Riordan; he has a way of making readers feel significant by coming up with something interesting and new to learn with every sequel. I have read all his published fantasy books and I’ve been disappointed only a few times, that too in the sequel of Percy Jackson series. The main problem I encounter in the Heroes of Olympus series is multiple narrative voice including the new characters. It all gets muddled and confusing for you.


    • I’ve only read Percy Jackson out of those suggestions and I agree. The second book did a great job putting the beloved characters into a new situation. Riordan kept that streak going through the series too.

      Not sure what the Reaping of the 75th Hunger Games was. Sounds like a slaughter.


  6. Reblogged this on annjohnsonmurphreeauthor and commented:
    Hello everyone…Please help support this writer. AJM


  7. Jae says:

    The worst sequel—threequel?—I ever read was Mockingjay. Well, maybe that’s not true. Book 13 of the Lemony Snicket series was up there. Mockingjay it was that the plot pattern she’d used in the previous two books was coming to light and then she mucked it up completely. It was like she couldn’t be bothered to write the rest of the book or she’d fired her editor. Characters did things that didn’t make sense to who they’d been described as the last 2 books, and the plot didn’t hold up to where it had been building. And then everything everyone ended up with was basically by default. Boooooring.

    And then Book 13. Basically it was a cop out for the plot with the author literally saying: “Sometimes it’s better not to know.” Meaning, I know you’ve been wondering about all these secret plans and people and wanted to know what it all meant, but myself and the characters have decided we don’t have what it takes and have decided to give you this terrible cop out ending instead. (I’m still bitter about it).

    Since Harry Potter is always the perfect example for everything, take Harry Potter. Harry changes a lot over 7 books and so do the characters around him. We got to see Harry in his less than honorable moments and in some really courageous moments. I agree with the above sentiment. Keep the characters changing and growing. Maybe let them make big mistakes they have to spend another book making up for. Keep leading us one way and let us discover it wasn’t exactly what we expected. Don’t be afraid to go bold, but don’t forget to still give us the reasons we fell in love with the characters in the first place.


    • Characters should evolve, but not to a point where they’re unrecognizable. That internal spark should be held to connect them to their past.

      I’ve heard stories about Mockingjay and how it hurt the entire series. Curious how they’re going to make a movie of that one.


  8. As long as the characters are consistent and the story is good I can’t see why you shouldn’t use the same location! It brings the reader home I think! What I hate is when sequel are done for sequel’s sake, if you know what I mean!


  9. ninjafrk77 says:

    Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series comes to mind. Goodkind is a master at sequels; he always manages to bring something entirely fresh and new to the table. The storyline is always fresh and non-repetitive, and there is always a fresh cast of characters to join up with (or fight against) the main characters. Some of these characters hang around from the previous book, and others fade in and out of the series, sometimes for a period of two or three books, before reemerging to warm your heart with their special glowing smile. He delves a lot into the lives of the supporting characters, using them to tell an interesting, cruel or satirical tale that perfectly and necessarily coincides with the main storyline of each book – more often than not as a main pillar of the central conflict. Also, he introduces a new premise in each book, teaching the main character something different every time. So, I guess what I look for in a sequel is that the storyline is something utterly new, fresh, and non-repetitive. It can’t be the same battle or the same theme as the previous – it has to have the magic of a first-born book without actually being the first-born. Goodkind’s approach is to make each novel a “one book story”: while it is but one book among many and belongs to a series in a specific chronological spot, it is set apart from the rest of the series’ titles and can be read on its own, without any previous knowledge of the series.


    • That’s a big undertaking and he truly is the master of it. I’m still fiddling with a series where each book is stand alone, but there’s a central plot or character to connect them. Takes a lot of skill and forethought.


      • ninjafrk77 says:

        It definitely does! I am at a level where I am still having trouble keeping up the plot while writing short stories, much less whole series’, so I know what you mean. I don’t know how he does it.
        On a second note, I would like to cast my vote for Mockingjay being the worst sequel – mainly due to its ending. I was following the story up until then, content although slightly irked more and more by how my favorite characters were suddenly dropping like flies. But then someone had to call in that last airstrike. Not the great and happy ending I was begging for.


      • Becoming rather glad I never invested in that series. I can’t handle a bad ending, which is why I’m paranoid about my own. My series is from the school of questing and adventurers, so I’m going to have an uphill battle.


  10. Rosie Amber says:

    Looking forward to your sequel being a winner.


  11. mrsgillies says:

    I can’t vouch for this however in my husband’s family they all have an in joke about how bad Air Force 2 was.


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