Posts Tagged minded world
One of the sweetest compliments a writer can hear is ‘I loved your book, please write the sequel’. And we live in a sequel-minded world. If there are any sure-fire ways to build a readership, a series is one of them.
So if people are asking for a sequel and you hadn’t planned one, should you consider it?
Certainly, a lot of hard work has already been done. You know the characters. Indeed, you may have had trouble shutting them away once edits were done. The chance to shake them awake again may be hard to resist.
You might have plenty of material. Outtakes that you pruned from the original novel, back story you wanted to work in but, mindful of pace or the reader’s attention, you cut. They could all be used, couldn’t they?
These are strong temptations, but they do not mean your novel should have a sequel.
Neither should you write a sequel because the reader has unanswered questions. At the moment, those are part of the novel’s resonance. If you answer them, would the magic disappear? Would your answers, in fact, be wrong now that this dimension of the book belongs to the readers?
What will create a story in your sequel?
Stories need a crisis. If you wrote a sequel, where would this new crisis come from?
In some genres, crisis comes with the territory. It’s a natural hazard of the characters’ job, heritage, world, race, DNA and dynasties etc. With those ingredients, your characters will have stories for ever more. Write them, and enjoy their rich variety.
Other novels, particularly non-genre, tend to be self-contained. The arc of the book was the defining experience of the characters’ lives. You wrote ‘The End’ when this was resolved, as much as possible. If you then put those characters through another story with a shift of similar magnitude, will that be hard to believe? And if the characters don’t have a fundamental disturbance, will they be interesting to read about? Remember, they’ve got to match up – or even surpass – the frisson of the original. But it can be done. Think Toy Story 3.
Should you reassemble the original cast? In a genre novel you might have a team who will always be thrown together. Indeed they might create a pseudo-family who give each plot an emotional core while they deal with the crisis du jour. At the end, they reassemble, tested, battered and wiser.
But in other novels, it may be better if the characters disperse. Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca has some perfectly ghastly sequels. Obviously licensed by the estate in an attempt to milk the fans, they squeal a warning for all would-be sequelers. They’re novels constructed by tick-boxes, contriving to drag the scattered characters out of contented retirement and flogging them onto the same treadmill again. In most cases they’ve already given their best, first time round. Leave them be.
So straight sequels may be dodgy, but you might have good mileage in a spin-off. While the principals from book one may be living a better-adjusted life, others could take centre stage. The original characters could be cameos to advise, steer, perhaps muddle everything up because the new crisis is not like the thing that happened to them.
Another possibility is to write the ‘missing years’ or a prequel. Perhaps one of your characters had an interesting interlude from far earlier in their life. Or if your original narrative was first person, perhaps there were other good stories happening around the corner.
Just one character
You might have a central character who still has a lot to offer. This is particularly true of catalyst characters, who stir up trouble but don’t change very much themselves. Throw them into a new situation and they will cause another maelstrom, just because. I get regular requests to write more about a certain catalyst character, who seems to inspire much speculation.
Not wanting to leave
Sometimes we writers want a sequel just as much as the readers do. But we have to take a look at what we would offer. After I finished with My Memories of a Future Life, I spent weeks doodling with aftermath scenes. They were indulgences, from a writer trapped in the deep end, struggling to surface. At the time, I intended them to be a continuation of the narrative but they went nowhere. The characters had stopped opening their hearts, as if what happened next was none of my business. Or perhaps I hadn’t found the right things for them to do.
It’s certainly possible that some of the Future Life people will rear up with a new urgent story. If they convince me that a lot more must be said and done, I shall write it without hesitation.
Until then, there are other stories I need to tell.
Are you tempted to write a sequel to your novel? If you’ve read sequels, what have you liked and what has made you wish the original was left alone? Share in the comments!
If you’re working up an idea for a novel, you might find some useful tips in my book Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence. And in that case, I find I have plenty more to say and so a second Nail Your Novel is under construction. If you’d like information, sign up for my newsletter.
authors, Daphne du Maurier, deepen your story, endings, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, gaming, heritage world, how to write a novel, how to write a sequel, how to write a series, ideas, indie authors, indie publishing, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, minded world, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, publishing, Rebecca, rich variety, Roz Morris, self-publishing, sequel, sequels, series, Toy Story, Toy Story 3, videogames, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life
Sign up for my newsletter
- 'If you're a writer or are considering becoming a writer, buy Roz's Nail Your Novel and Stephen King's On Writing. Everything else is a waste of time and money.'
- 'Showed me where I was going wrong... without making me feel like an idiot'
- 'Made me want to drop everything and get back to the manuscript'
Rozmorriswriter [at] gmail [dot] com
Find me here too
- 'An essential reference for #writers' Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life- bit.ly/16bR6nU 10 hours ago
- Thanks for RT @fcmalby: Powerful Storytelling: Getting Readers to Fill the Blanks @KMWeiland helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/05/a-powe… #writing #writetip 14 hours ago
- Thanks for RT and #ff @mischievousmali: Powerful Storytelling: Getting Readers to Fill the Blanks bit.ly/186B6C3 #writetip #fiction 15 hours ago
- RT @porter_anderson: "Speech is carried off by the wind; the written word can never be obliterated" Mo Yan #Nobel ow.ly/l9reu 1 day ago
All content copyright Roz Morris 2009-2013 and may not be reproduced.
If you wish to REBLOG a post, that's very nice of you - please take no more than 10% of the piece and please link back to the full post here.
INTENSIVE MULTIMEDIA COURSE WITH ROZ MORRIS AND JOANNA PENN
What do you want to read about today?
It’s all here somewhereagents Amazon authors beginners beginnings books Character deepen your story entertainment fiction Fix and Finish With Confidence having ideas how to write a book how to write a novel ideas inspiration interview Kindle literary fiction literature music music for writing My Memories of a Future Life Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence novels Planning Plot polishing publishing revising Rewriting Roz Morris self-publishing The Undercover Soundtrack unblocking undercover soundtrack writer's block writing writing a novel - Nail Your Novel writing business writing life writing prompt writing routine writing to music
Type something. See what happens
- When to trust the reader’s intuition – and when to spell out what a character feels: post at KM Weiland’s Wordplay
- ‘True love is a sense of returning home’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Caroline Smailes
- Only connect: how to wake a dormant muse
- 3 ways the author temperament hinders our writing – post at Authors Electric
- ‘Art that engages the sixth sense’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Tom Bradley
Out and about
Alliance of Independent Authors Professional Member