Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has been active in the Canberra writing community, teaching and editing, was Chair of the ACT Writers Centre from 2003 to 2008 and in 2006 was Writer in Residence at the University of Science in Penang, Malaysia.

Five Lessons on The Pitfalls of Writing A Sequel

by Craig Cormick

Everyone loves a sequel, right?

Well, not necessarily. They are great for those who enjoyed a book and want to continue the enjoyment and spend more time with those characters and in that land, or fighting those aliens or demons or whatever. But they can be the devil to write (not a paranormal reference).

I’ve been trying to find a good metaphor to best explain the particular problems that writing the second book in a series presents for an author? It’s not quite like having a second child. It’s not quite like visiting an exotic city for the second time. It’s not even quite like having sex for the second time with the same partner (not a paranormal romance reference).

But in a way it’s a little bit like all of these, as there is a certain undeniable special magic that goes with the first that is lacking in the second.
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Writing a Sequel: Lessons Learned

Sequels are utterly ubiquitous in fantasy, a genre that thrives on trilogies, quintets, cycles, songs, sagas, and every other form of length multi-volume narrative you can name. As a fantasy reader, I’ve been reading books in that format my whole life, but until I got started on The Shadow Throne, I’d never actually written one myself. It was a different experience than writing the first book, for better and for worse, sometimes in ways that were a little bit unexpected.

Some of the good parts are pretty obvious. One reason sequels are so popular in fantasy is because the genre embraces deep, complex world-building, and it’s difficult to explore the full breadth of a realistic world in a single book. Writing a sequel allows the writer to introduce new characters, new locations, new cultures, things that in the first book were only distantly referenced or place-names on a map. At the same time, because the first book has laid the foundation, the author doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel and lay the groundwork all over again. In The Shadow Throne, my characters leave the distant colony of Khandar and return to their home in Vordan, which gives me a chance to show off all kinds of interesting bits and pieces of culture, geography, and history.

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In episode 230 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Jeff Patterson, Sarah Chorn, Larry Ketchersid, Django Wexler, and Paul Weimer discuss sequels to books that were better than their predecessors.

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After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decide, Brian Staveley began writing epic fantasy. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades (forthcoming from Tor on January 14, 2014), is the start of his series, Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. Tor.com has been good enough to release the first seven chapters as a teaser. Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order. He can be found on twitter at @brianstaveley, facebook as brianstaveley, and Google+ as Brian Staveley.

Bootlegging and Manure-Spreading: The Starting of Sequels
by Brian Staveley

When it comes to exposition, the question facing a writer at the start of a book is: “How much of this shit do I really need?” There’s no right answer, of course. Too much can destroy the plot’s momentum, while too little can leave the reader feeling as though she’s watching a bunch of stick figures carom around inside a poorly glued up diorama. Every author makes her peace with the balance, and by the end of the novel, when that balance has generally shifted toward all-out action, the challenges of exposition are largely forgotten. Then, if you’re writing a series, you start volume two, and the question becomes, “Do I really need to do all that shit again?”
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In episode 215 of the SF Signal Podcast, despite technical difficulties and a slight headache, Patrick Hester wrangles a cornucopia of irregulars to discuss books that deserved a sequel – and why they deserved one. Plus: Highlander 2 and other silliness. Did I mention the technical difficulties?

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