I’m not talking about clichés – rather, I’m talking about the stuff that leaves you breathless, with a little chill down your spine. I don’t personally write horror, but the best kind of suspense thrillers can often have a similar effect – just within a more specialized genre.
For me, when writing a sequel especially, it can be hard to tie in everything believably from the first installment. But here are some tips I’ve found that can really help you in that direction. Read on to hear a bit how I leave my readers turning pages and staying up way past their bedtimes 😉
#1: Think about how you can tie existing plot points together.
This generally works better than pulling new things out of thin air – that almost always seems cheesy, forced, and too cluttered. BUT if you build on plot ideas that are already established, linking them together in a meaningful way that is unexpected yet realistic can be strikingly powerful.
#2: Remember that not everything has to be significant.
Given the suggestion above, don’t just tie everything together. It’s a delicate balance, and if you do that, it feels much too close-captioned and limiting. Bring in some minor characters that don’t reappear, and add some events that are mundane – and therefore without Earth-shattering consequences. That way, the things you do choose to highlight will hit hard and fast, right to the gut. I even like to tease out small details that later become critical to the plot. The biggest thing is to hit that solid balance between connecting enough, and letting some things fall to the wayside.
#3: Consult with other writers in your genre for feedback.
This is maybe the most important point of them all. Getting an idea out of your brain and into someone else’s is really what writing stories boils down to. So talking it out with a friend or colleague with a relevant skill set is a massive help. Just a few days ago, I called one of my author friends who had read my latest book for help thinking up ideas for the sequel, and he really helped me tease out some clever ways to tie things together without it seeming too unbelievable. Feedback from others is king here – but as always, take what they say with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, you have to be able to vibe with your writing so that you can back your creative decisions one-hundred percent.
Plot twists are maybe my favorite part of writing, especially in the character development realm. I’ve been toying a lot lately with characters that act differently than you’d expect them to (for better or worse). In those situations, it’s fine to show subtle changes that signal new social dynamics and growth (or decay, in some cases). Now go ahead, and give it your best shot!
If you’d like to read my latest book, Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember (Book 1 of The Rewind Duology) full of plot twists, you can find it HERE.
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