Writing sequels for young readers by Emma Read

Emma Read photo

…And They Lived Happily Ever After. Then What Happened?

Being asked to write a sequel to Milton the Mighty was both thrilling and daunting. On the one hand, I had the chance to play with my best spider-friends again. I was excited to catch up with them and find out what they’d been up to since the success of their #NotScaredOfSpiders campaign – I hadn’t realised it had been so tough for Milton. It was also lovely to see Zoe too. A lot has happened in her life too – new house, new ‘parent’ and SATs coming up.

On the other hand I’d thrown everything at my first book – you have to. If you’re going to make it over the finishing line and get an agent, and a publishing deal, you can’t leave anything out. So my self-doubt had a found new tune and it sang: ‘What if you can’t do it again?’

On repeat.

And unhelpfully, this second-book insecurity comes with a whole playlist, including

‘One-Hit Wonder’


‘Not as good as the first one.’

I can’t do anything about imposter syndrome earworms, but I can give you a starting tip that might help you navigate…

‘that tricky second novel’

With Milton the Megastar, my first point of call was to look at the resolutions of book one. So all those neat little conclusions, where everything worked out for the best and the baddie was dispatched – what were the consequences of those? For Milton, he becomes a celebrity, so how is that working out for him six months later? Zoe’s Dad and Greta Parker buy a house together – how does this impact on Zoe. And of course … what about Milton’s dad?

At the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss has won – she has accomplished everything we were hoping for. Or has she? In the sequel we realise we want so much more – not just to win the games, but to win the war.

In Charlie Changes into a Chicken, by Sam Copeland, Charlie figures out what’s happening to him and how to keep it under control. In Charlie Turns into a T-Rex, Charlie is still changing – although he can control himself, he can’t control everyone else!

WRITING EXERCISE: Take a look at a stand-alone book you enjoy, and consider:

All those happily ever afters … are they? Really? Or are they just the beginning of something new?

Make a note of at least three threads you could pick up and develop for a fan-fiction sequel.

For more from me on writing a sequel, check out my article in the Write Mentor Magazine.

Milton the Megastar

About the Author

Emma Read is the author of Milton the Mighty, which was one of The Times Best Children’s Books of 2019, and the sequel, Milton the Megastar (both Chicken House Books). The MILTON series is written for younger readers and is all about finding courage, good friends, and doing amazing things – even if you’re a spider the size of a raisin! Emma lives in Bath, and never sweeps up cobwebs.
Find out more at: https://www.emmareadauthor.com/

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