The Problem and Solution to Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy



by Teagan Berry


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, its 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!





Alternately titled “Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy.”

Guest post contributed by Teagan Berry. Teagan writes books, watches sports, and reads. She started her blog initially to beat writer’s block, but it’s turned into so much more. 

18 thoughts on “The Problem and Solution to Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy

  1. In my Forbidden series, each book can stand on its own. I give enough information about the characters so the reader doesn’t feel lost, and returning readers don’t feel I’m rehashing old info. The conflict is unique to each book. I don’t have a cliffhanger ending where the reader would feel cheated in buying the book—even if they read out of order.

    In book 2 and 3, I focus on characters I introduced in book 1, plus add any new supporting characters as needed.


  2. My trilogy (which may yet have a 4th book added) spans 50 years and so it is to be expected that new characters will be added. In book 2, I have a new female protagonist. She still interacts with characters from book 1, but sets in motion the problems that lead to the conflict in book 3. I’m still in the editing phase, but hopefully it will work 🙂


  3. Reblogged this on tanyascreams and commented:
    I’ve been completely focused on the new characters in my book 2 that i’ve ignored the plot of 2 and the end to my book 1. Upside: interesting characters Downfall: non existent plot.
    I’ve found it useful to deepen the characters histories and have something from their past come back at them while they’re trying to move forward. It increases everyone’s knowledge of them while they grow past their past. Pointer#5?


  4. Why does every book have to be part of a trilogy? As a reader, I will admit that I like to know what happens next to characters I have come to live, but really, can’t some books be complete as is, that is stand alone? Would love to know…


    1. I agree with you. It’s not satisfying for a reader not to have all the ends tied up in a plot when they get to the last page. The books in my Forbidden series all have satisfactory endings and can be read out of order. If a reader starts book 3 first, it does not spoil book 1 and 2. Likewise, I’m writing book 4 that is stand-alone, but includes characters from the first three books.


  5. To me, The Empire Strikes Back is an excellent example of how awesome the second part of a trilogy can be. Deeper characterizations, a darker tone, two meaty plot lines that come together, plus a cool revelation that casts the original story in a new light. And, oh yeah. A cliff-hanger of an ending . . . at least for those of us old enough to have seen this film when it first came out!


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