Is it only me, or does the word "sequel" conjure up cheesy movie posters and George Lucas interviews for anybody else? Something about the word itself gives me a feeling of low-grade anxiety, like by writing a sequel to Landry Park, I'm inviting Jar Jar Binks in for tea, and possibly some apes from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and that we're all going to watch the third Matrix movie while we nibble on our petit fours.
So I'm trying to keep some things in mind as I write.
1) The sequel must be its own story. Our own Leaguer Beth Revis did this beautifully with A Million Suns, the sequel to Across the Universe. The book isn't just Elder and Amy sighing at rivets and checking their watches--there is a mystery to be solved and the clock is ticking. A sequel needs to have its own separate arc within the larger arc of the world.
2) BUT the sequel must also continue the first story: In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe encounters new places, people and challenges, but his ultimate goal is the same as it was in The Name of the Wind--he has to learn about the Chandrian and find them, all to avenge his family. The larger themes and problems introduced in the first book need to be addressed and either resolved or have had progress made on them.
3) Deal with the major problems. The big questions introduced in the first book need to be resolved or--if it's not the final book in the series--at least make some significant progress on answering the major questions. Harry Potter is wonderful at this. Each book--each year--brings us closer to the inevitable confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. The characters gather weapons, learn new information and edge closer to the final battle.
4) Don't forget what made the first thing fun. I'm going to break one of my own rules here and speak about the fourth Indiana Jones movie, which I went to the theater and saw and wanted to love. Oh, I wanted to love it so badly. And to be honest, it's not the worst film ever made. It has some good quips (got to have quipping), and Karen Allen, and some guys getting eaten by ants. But it was missing something present in the first three films--a sense of adventure, an earnestness even. Instead, we got overwhelming amounts of CGI and aliens.
What is the world that the first thing promised? What is the feeling? The atmosphere? The sequel needs to contain the things that compelled you to write the first book and readers to read the first book.
And now with my daily procrastination finished, I'm going to tattoo these rules on my hand and get to work.