Writing Prequels, Sequels, and the Main Thing Itself


Active Member
Feb 20, 2021
I figured I'd make more posts on this site beyond what I've normally done, as I'm not too active, so I guess I'll put out whatever is on my mind if it makes sense for a question or discussion such as this. Is it necessarily a good thing if I want to write more books alongside my main one? I mean this as in, I know I am going to be making a multitude of books for this series. My problem is that I don't know if I should write the two prequels I wanted to make right now when I am only 4 chapters into the main thing itself. I told myself that it would help me pull together a far more cohesive storyline in terms of chronological events but I do not know if this is something I should commit to or if I should wait until the main story is completed.

What would your thoughts on the matter be or how exactly do you feel about things like this personally?
Hi! I advise you to try to finish this current book you are working on first. The important thing, to save work, is that when planning a prequel, you have to know or have an idea of what you are going to look for in it, of what mystery is the answer or what is important that it is known the origin of the story that is presented in that prequel? I, for example, did not find the need to propose a prequel until the fourth book, since it is discovered that the secret around which the story revolves is a mystery that for centuries both sides have been protecting at one time or another, which doesn't make sense unless what they protected does, and around that it was only then that I started planning that prequel.
I'm actually going through a similar situation. My main thing is a duology, but while plotting the second novel I've started to think about prequel series and sequel series.

I'd say stick to your main thing because this is where most of the worldbuilding happens IMO. You have to keep in mind any ideas/conflicts that happen in the prequels that will affect the main thing. For example, the kingdom in my world is extremely old. In the first novel of the duology, I mention the second monarch of the kingdom quite frequently. He's this military dude who wants to make his father proud. So, during his time, the kingdom is attacked by the two neighbouring kingdoms (I won't go into the motivations right now coz that will take a long time). This war with the other kingdoms is the reason they don't offer aid during the present war, which is the main conflict of the duology.

Writing the main thing also helps to set the stage for your sequels, so that you know what's going to happen.

If you're concerned about a cohesive storyline, I spoke about this in the How much worldbuilding do you do before starting the story? (How much worldbuilding do you do before starting the story?). Create a calendar that maps out your entire timeline and note down any important past events (I learned this trick from Margaret Atwood's MasterClass).

Hope this helped!
A lot of what you do will be in the world building[much of which will never enter into the actual story] and then any backstory that does leak into the story.
I usually can see where a prequel might fit in as I write--so much to write, don't know when I'll get to that; certainly don't want to stop and try to do it in the middle of something else.
As someone who primarily writes series that are anywhere from 3 to 7 books (so far), I would recommend writing one at a time. Stick with the current one for now, because you'll really be able to flesh out the story and world-building, rather than trying to write multiple books at once and risk losing continuity with the long-term story. If you try to work on more than one at a time, you might find yourself flip-flopping back and forth trying to keep all the histories, events, and arcs aligned as your multiple stories evolve. Sticking to one at a time gives you a more decisive timeline or plotline to follow with prequels and sequels.

You should ask yourself, why is it you think you need a prequel or sequel? If you are just trying to flesh out the history of events, that can be woven into your main story/series. If you have events or characters that you want to give more attention to or that more detail is vital to the overall story, then that could be grounds for a prequel or sequel.

I have to say, I never do enter into a book thinking it is going to be a series, but they just tend to evolve that way. Often, I'll have a core trilogy or something, and then I will write additional series in that same timeline/universe but that follows a different set of characters at a different time (whether it be past or future). Usually, these "spinoffs" are inspired by historical events or characters that I mention or reference in the main series and want to give the proper attention to in a separate book, or they are the continuation of a character who was peripheral in the main series and whose story diverges from the main series.

If you aren't familiar with it, check out Anne McCaffery's Dragonriders of Pern series. She started with three books in a trilogy with that series, and then expanded it to writing one offs and other trilogies that spanned a time frame of several thousand years. Even her son and daughter helped her continue on the series in her later years and since her passing. Some of her one offs overlap with other time periods, and some of her trilogies coincide with the original trilogy with a different character focus, others delve deep into the history of her world, and some will follow a specific character that was a peripheral character in another book. Her prequels and sequels cover a large span of time before and after the original trilogy.

That might sound overwhelming, so I hope you understood the overall point of that. Basically, she started with one trilogy and just kept expanding on it in whatever direction made sense.

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