Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Writing Book 2


While ABOVE WORLD is off being copyedited, I’ve been working on the second book in the series, which I have creatively codenamed ABOVE WORLD 2.

There are a few firsts going on here:

  • First sequel
  • First book I’ve sold before it was written
  • First book with a deadline
  • First book I’ve written that people who aren’t me already have a vested interest in

Before I started writing, I wondered if those factors would panic me. I kind of assumed they would, since my writing brain usually needs far less impetus to stage a freak out. But instead of freaking out, I’m actually loving the process.

Some reasons for love:

  • I already know my main characters and enjoy writing them again
  • I get a chance to develop my MCs in new ways
  • I already know the basics of the world (even if we’re in a new area now)
  • The more I write in the world, the bigger and more real it feels
  • I get a chance to do things I couldn’t squeeze into Book 1

I spent so much of Book 1 being paralyzed by choice. The world was so big and the direction of the book was completely open. A few different decisions early on, and the book might have morphed from adventure into romance or horror or dystopian angst fest. But now, the tone and direction of the series are set. Sure, I can still go all sorts of directions, but at its heart, the book will remain a science fantasy adventure.

And then there’s the experimentation that comes with writing a middle book/episode.

Personally, I love when middle episodes of trilogies depart from the structure of episodes 1 and 3. You can see this in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It feels so different than A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. But it’s not just glue — it’s something different and interesting in its own way. It’s arguably the best of the three. (And yes, there are only three Star Wars movies.)

Another example is The Tombs of Atuan in LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea trilogy. A lot of people hated that book because the main character isn’t Ged, but I loved it. I loved how structurally different it is, how we get a wholly new look at the word because we have changed eyes.

Examples that work less well? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. UGH. And I think that longer series often have the same formula in each book. Here, I’m thinking of Eddings’ Belgariad. Yet Turner’s The Thief series seems to reinvent itself with every book, staying fresh and surprising.

Okay, so there are examples of pretty much everything, and I enjoy thinking about them all.

For the readers and writers out there, what makes book 2 of a trilogy sing for you?

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Poor Temple of Doom never gets any love! Also, that analogy doesn't really work, because Doom is set one year before Raiders.

    On the other side of the coin, The Two Towers is my favorite of the LOTR books.

    • That's why I think Doom *does* count — because it tries to do something different and interesting as a second episode. It's still considered part of the trilogy, despite the time jump.

      Two Towers was my least favorite book of the LotR series because the hobbits bored me. But I think the movie version is strong.

      • But, the Indy movies aren't part of a continuing story in the way that SW or LOTR or Harry Potter are, so it shouldn't really adhere to the same "Middle Chapter" rule. It's a "trilogy" only in the sense that there are three movies (or 4, should you wish to go there). They're like the Bond series, more than anything.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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