Writing a Sequel That Works as a Standalone Novel

Award-winning author Carla Norton wrote her first crime fiction novel, The Edge of Normal, as a standalone book. She wasn't considering a sequel at the time, but did have an idea of how the story could continue. When Norton's publisher requested a second book, she was delighted to have the opportunity to continue the story of her main character, a recovering kidnap victim. Writing a sequel does come with its challenges, Norton says. A sequel has to written in a way that satisfies both new readers and readers that have read the first book. The trick is to find a balance between having enough backstory from the first book that you can make new readers feel like they are caught up, while not repeating too much from the first book and alienating your loyal readers. Most importantly, she says, is that each book in a series needs to work as a standalone novel.

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