I don’t know why, but for some reason when writing a trilogy I find the second book the hardest.
Book One is simple. Introduce the characters, establish their working relationships with one another, and tease the big, BIG conflict which will happen two books from now.
Following suit, Book Three isn’t much more difficult when you break down its fundamentals. At this point, we know the characters. We know the conflict. Book Three is where everything completely blows up in the characters’ faces at the final battle… and then promptly gets resolved in some fashion during the closing pages.
Book Two, on the other hand, is something entirely different. You don’t have the wonder and amazement that comes with the Book One world and character building. You also don’t have the war-to-end-all-wars conflict which is coming in Book Three. No, Book Two is the “we know what the problem is and now we’re trying to fix it” book. To some, it’s the most boring book out of the whole trilogy. It’s also where a writer can go wrong and derail everything that’s good about the entire series.
Now, how to fix this problem?
To start off, an author needs to make sure that Book Two gets just as much individual attention as both Book One and Book Three. Book Two sometimes get neglected by the author and becomes just another version of Book One, something which can’t happen if you don’t want to lose readers.
Pointer #1: Book Two needs to have it’s own plot, it’s own conflict. Keep the tone of Book One, but don’t let it be a copycat. Find something for your main character to grasp onto and let them run with it. Just remember to let this thing get resolved. This way you’re giving your MC something to do while they prepare to weather the storm that will be Book Three. The overarching BIG conflict is still there, but there’s a definitive conclusion of something smaller.
Pointer #2: Remember the end point of the series. This is important. Generally when writing a series you have an idea of where it’s going to end, so use that to your advantage. Determine where your character needs to be by the time the Great Battle comes and get them there. No matter what.
Depending on who you talk to, there’s another way to go about writing Book Two. Pointer #3: Give another character the stand. There’s always another character (usually secondary) that becomes interesting to the author and readers. If it works with your storytelling style, let them have a voice. Let Book Two be theirs, at least partially. There are lots of novels out there which successfully made Book Two more of a companion-styled book. This doesn’t work for everybody, but it’s a good option for some and definitely something to consider.
Another thought here relating to characters. Pointer #4: Bring in some fresh blood. New characters help to bring life to a story which is stagnant. Let your main character interact with different people than they’re used to. Who knows? Maybe one of these new characters will bring out something in your MC that you didn’t know.
Those are all of the suggestions I can come up with for now. If you can think of anything you’d like to add, please feel free to comment below.
As always, happy writing!
Until next time.