The Anatomy Of A Sequel

The Anatomy Of A Sequel


The Sequel

In my first post in this series on writing scenes and sequels, I covered 10 things to remember about these storytelling devices. In the second I covered the anatomy of an action scene. In today’s post, I am going to cover the anatomy of a sequel (a.k.a a reaction scene).

“Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.” ~Anna Quindlen

The sequel is used when the character reacts to his or her failure and thinks about a new plan of action. The character may be alone or with another character. This is the perfect place to make use of your confidant character.

Because we get bored when we spend too much time trapped in a character’s thoughts and feelings, we need to remember that sequels are shorter than scenes. [Read Everything You Need To Know About Scenes And Sequels]

Two Tips

  1. Show the character’s reactions through thoughts, body language, and actions if he or she is alone.
  2. If he or she is with another character, use dialogue, thoughts, body language, and actions to express reactions. 

Use the sequel:

  1. If the character’s reaction to an event is strong, for example, he or she is devastated, bitterly disappointed, furious, or grief-stricken.
  2. If the character’s reaction requires analysis or weighing his or her options.
  3. If the action scene is momentous or life changing.

Remember that the sequel is cathartic. It gives the character and the reader a chance to rest and to take stock of what’s happened.

The sequel consists of four phases, in this order:

  1. The emotional. He or she reacts with his or her heart. He or she could feel outraged, angry, insulted, frustrated, or embarrassed.
  2. The rational. He or she calms down and reacts with his or her head.
  3. The decision. He or she decides what course of action to pursue to solve the new problem created in the previous action scene.
  4. The action. He or she sets a new short-term goal that puts him or her on the path to the next action scene.

Example: Following last week’s scene where Hector found out that his daughter was ill, we move into a sequel where he has to deal with this news:

  1. Emotional: Hector visits his best friend and breaks down.
  2. Rational: They discuss what has happened.
  3. Decision: Hector decides that staying with his wife is the only option for now.
  4. Action: He calls his mistress, leaves a message, and heads home.

A sequel is ALWAYS followed by a scene. You should never have consecutive sequels. It is boring.

Look out for next week’s post: Perfect Scene Templates To Help You Plot Your Book

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg, or sign up for our online course.

by Amanda Patterson