Should You Reread Book 1 Before Writing Book 2?

Posted by annastan on February 18th, 2014. Filed under: A Closer Look, The Gossip File, WIP, Writing a Series.

If any of you are in the New England area, come check out an awesome “Creating an Author Website” workshop that Husband Ray is doing at The Writers’ Loft this Saturday at 2pm.

Should you reread Book 1 before writing Book?  This might sound like a silly question, but I must admit that I hate rereading my books once they’re finished. I’m always afraid I’ll find a huge error or a scene that doesn’t work. Of course, avoiding rereading my books can be difficult when I’m working on a series.

So my answer is YES, you do need to reread your first book; in fact, I think you should reread it more than once.

Before I start drafting a new book in a series, I usually go back and read the previous one. But last week as I was revising THE GOSSIP FILE, the third book in the Dirt Diary series, my publisher sent me the final page proofs for THE PRANK LIST, so I had to read the book yet again. And I’m glad I did because it helped me with the following elements of my revision:

Pacing – After seeing the pacing of Book 2, I realized that Book 3 needed to be much tighter at the beginning to match it.

Continuity – This is an obvious one. You want to make sure that what happens in Book 3 makes sense with what happened in Book 2. I realized that there was a housing issue mentioned at the end of THE PRANK LIST that hadn’t been addressed in THE GOSSIP FILE, so that’s something I’ll need to address.

Consistency – As I was rereading Book 3, I made the discovery that I’d written “Booger Crap” as “Boogercrap.” Shocking, I know! Thank goodness I realized this before it was too late.

Voice – Even though I reread THE PRANK LIST before drafting THE GOSSIP FILE to get a feel for the voice, going through the second book again got me even more firmly into the character.

Story Structure – In the first two Dirt Diary books I tried to make all the plot threads feel intertwined. After rereading the second book, I realized that’s something I need to keep working on in Book 3.

So there you have it. All the reasons that I (grudgingly) acknowledge that rereading your books multiple times is essential! I’m happy to report that I didn’t find any huge errors or flat scenes in Book 2, so maybe that means I’m learning to let things go. :-)

3 Responses to Should You Reread Book 1 Before Writing Book 2?

  1. Mirka Breen

    I was *just* thinking how certain elements sort of disappeared after the first volume of Harry Potter, (like his hair growing abnormally fast) and about how important it is to keep the thread through a series.
    Even with a stand-alone, it is surprising in revision how many details may have “gone under” by the time you wrote the last chapters.

    Another spot-on post, Anna.

  2. Ann Herrick

    Great points! They’re all important, but I’d guess continuity and consistency would be the toughies. :D

  3. Jenni Enzor

    These are all great points! I’m not writing a series, but I will file this away for the future. As a reader, I don’t notice inconsistencies so much as repetitions. Often authors summarize the previous book at the beginning or the plot is very similar to the last one. How do you avoid being repetitious?