How do you avoid "boring" once you're an established author?

May 20, 2011

This is not the first time I have read a popular author's sequel book and found it, well....boring.

For the record, and for the salvation of my future as a published author, I will not divulge as to what book I am referring too. And no, it is not the book I have listed to the right in my "Currently Reading" sidebar.

What I wonder is, how does this happen?  How does one go from great to eh, okay.  Could it be that their popularity and fame has deluded editors judgement?  Or could it be that I read the author's other books a long while back but now find the writing subpar?  Maybe but beyond my opinion, others, a majority others praise this author.

So I ask, how can we avoid this as future authors?  I'd like to think we would not get so full of ourselves.  That we won't let book sales go to our head and we will still strive to write a better book than last time.  That beating a dead horse is simply that, beating a dead horse.  I hope than when I'm published and WHEN I get my three book deal (You like that putting-it-out-in-the-universe mentality?) that I preform like Susan Collins and write the greatest Mockingjay of my life.  That's how you do it!

How will you crack the "Sequels Suck" myth?

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  1. I think the main thing is to have a plan. I think that the worst sequels are when the author just wrote it up because the first book did great in sales. I think without have an idea of how the characters and plot grow, it's just forced and not an engaging story.

  2. sophomore slump!

    Or the good old music biz theory...You have your whole life to write your first album. Second, has to come fast!

  3. Generally sequels are just rehashing the first book. I admire how JK Rowling did it. Despite clamor and cash aplenty waiting for her, she took her time to make sure each book stood on its own and wasn't the usual copycat of the original.

  4. I've come across this a lot with trilogies. The first book is flipping fantastic, the second is fine, whatever, and then the third takes off your head and screws it on backwards.

    I thought Catching Fire was kinda meh--I mean, lots of action, definitely a sophomore book feel. Right this moment, I can't even really remember what happens in the middle book of another favorite series. And even LOTR is subject...Two Towers isn't nearly as satisfying as Fellowship and Return of the King.

    But I think that's just kind of how a story goes. You start out exciting, and then it takes time for things to build to the conclusion, so second books tend to be in the "building" phase.

  5. I think if you are writing a series the individual book arcs need to be as sizzling as the overall series arc. I kills me when a middle book is a bridge instead of its own story. I'm reading the latest in one of my favorite series right now and it is officially boring. I'm so disappointed.

  6. I think its a bit the book you write and the book industry. Like it seems even if you have a sequel to your book the first book has to be a stand alone book, because it could fail and you won't get a chance as sophomore slump.

    So the main arc of the story won't start until the second book. It always does, from Twilight to the Hunger Games the driving arc for the rest of the series begins in book two. What does this mean, you ask? Well basically book two is just a big ole interesting blob of exposition.
    There's plot there's character development--sometimes not always, but it's like going back and restarting the series from point A.

    How to avoid this, hmmm. Well one is to plant the seeds of your arc subtly in book one. They can be a few loose ends that sort of tie up but in the next book you find that oh shit no they haven't. That requires as Jenna said a plan! Plan the thing out. Suzanne Collins talks about all the planning she did for the HG and it shows. Second have interesting characters, and please avoid the black whole of "my love interest left me and now I'm comatose for six months."--it gets old ladies and gentlemen find a new plot bunny.

    Other than that just write what your characters tell you and hope for the best. Second books are hard because the time between publishing lets us create our own story for them and then the author gets it "wrong" at least in our heads.

    Sorry for the super long post.....

  7. Alright peeps, I was out of town but now I can comment back on all of your brilliant thoughts.

    Jenna – Yes a plan…which sucks for the pantser in me BUT I can semi-plan for my future books. And I so agree, forced is so obvious.

    Nicole – sophomore slump, try Senior slump. This isn’t a second book in a series, very sad.

    Karen – Don’t freak when I tell you, I’ve never read harry potter. (we’re still friends, right?) Watched the movies though! I agree, taking time to do it right is important, and JR Rowling nailed it.

    Amanda – Along your same lines, Catching Fire was my third fav. I felt like it happened too fast but loved it. And yes, sequels, in books or movies tend to build and don’t get labeled as favorites.

    Leslie – You have an interesting observation, middle books are bridges and they really shouldn't have to be. Why don’t authors treat middle books like stand alones too? Well I guess if they don't, there isn’t a build for a third? Your favorite series right now is officially boring? I bet we are reading the same series.

    Gretchen – have I told you I love your analytical brain lately? That’s why you make the bestest critique partner. Your theory is dead on (and astounding. Those writing courses are paying off big time. Lucky me) but unfortunately does not apply to the book I was reading, it isn't numero dos. And yes, plot recycles are inevitable but latching onto a recent one like oh say... "my love interest left me and now I'm comatose for six months" is a big NO NO. (BTW…long comments are always welcomed and encouraged.)


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