SEQUELS CAN BE A WORRISOME THING


To some, anyway.

I have this habit (possibly an unhealthy one) of getting so far into my characters’ heads, there’s a chance surgical procedures may be required to extract me and bring me back into the real world.  I don’t necessarily find this to be a bad thing (although hubby may disagree—ha!).  I love the relationship I have with my characters.  I love that bond I share with them.  Just as I love that there’s a little piece of me in every character point of view I write from.  For this reason, writing a series of novels is right up my alley.

I used the word ‘sequels’ in my post title, even though I don’t really class my DARKNESS AND LIGHT collection as debut/sequel/threequel, but more as book 1, 2, and 3 in the series.

I may even give the series a name (suggestions, anyone?).

But why, you may wonder—if I consider writing a series of novels that revolve around, or intertwine with a collection of characters my ideal way to write—would I consider a ‘sequel’ to be a worrisome thing?

It’s not so much the writing of it that’s the issue.  If anything, I’m at an immediate advantage because I’m already close to the established characters.

So, what’s the problem?  Or should I say problems?

One: My belief that each novel in my series should work as a stand-alone piece of work is a high one.  I wouldn’t, for one minute, want someone to find book 2 on the shelves and buy it, but then feel mightily peeved at me because none of it makes sense without having read the first book.  I want them to read it, and love it for what it is … and then run off to the shops at a speed that leaves smoke behind from their burning rubber because they JUST HAVE TO HAVE MORE OF MY CHARACTERS DAMMIT!

Two: Holding consistency for your character can be a toughie for some writers.  Their quirks, and character traits, and personality cannot suddenly alter to suit the story, or even a singular scene, WITHOUT VERY GOOD REASON.  I add in that bit at the end, because, yes, occurrences and circumstance can alter a characters outlook on life and affect any future decisions they make … but those changes still have to be consistent with what would be believable for that character.  So … if you struggle to portray a consistent character from the start to finish of one book … how would you manage to pull it off for two … or three … or four ….  See where I’m going with this?

Three: And this is a BIG one, to me.  How often have you picked up a second or third in a series and thought, ‘Boooo, same old, same old, boooooooring’, because the entire book is no more than a remash of the original, with everything repeated, and nothing new to thrill you, and … well, you get the picture.  If you can’t make the storyline of the second in a series as original as the first, then you’re wasting your time. Nobody wants a Groundhog Day series, right?

Which brings me around to the prompt for this post.

Just after Christmas, I sent out copies of the second in my series: BLUE MOON, to my beta readers, and have sat in worrisome mode since, wondering what they think.  Will they enjoy it as much as the first?  Will they be annoyed with me because Y happens to X?  Will they like Z character I brought to the forefront to appease them over Y happening to X?  (Note my obscurity here?  Sorry, but I’m a detester of spoilers).  I have had some feedback from one of my readers, and she kept me updated, letting me know how far through she is, and that she’s loving it, and can’t wait to read it all.

However, another of my beta readers has read the complete manuscript, and was (oh so) kind enough to visit my Facebook page last night and let me know what she thought.

Wanna see?

Well, in case you can’t be arsed to follow the link at the side of my home page =>>to my writer page, I’ve pasted it below:

“Hi Julie, as soon as I settled down to read Blue Moon I was once again hooked on the story of Sean & Jem. It is fast paced and the way it builds up the tension makes it a book thats very hard to put down. I’m starting to feel like I know the characters & that they exist somehow….somewhere…..weird I know 🙂 Thank you for allowing me to read your novel & can’t wait for the next installment!”

Awesome, no?  That is (how’d they say it?) Mission Accomplished.

Now I just have to hope my other beta reader’s like it as much.  🙂

What are your thoughts on sequels, or a running series?  Do you mind books that are left open-ended?  Or do you think it’s important for them to stand on their own two feet and be strong enough to hold their own?

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4 thoughts on “SEQUELS CAN BE A WORRISOME THING

  1. Great post! I absolutely agree that sequels must stand on their own. I started to write a sequel to my fantasy novel during NaNo, and found it hard to keep in mind what bits of information from the first piece needed to be included for new readers. Much harder than writing the first one in the series.

    1. Yep. Getting the backstory right is a tricky one. Put too little in, and readers new to your work will flounder. Put too much in, and you’ll bore the pants off someone who read the preceding novel. It’s all about balance. 🙂
      And welcome to my blog, m’dear 🙂

  2. I don’t usually do the sequel thing, but as you KNOW, I have a trilogy planned. The key for me is that I know the start all the way through the finish so that it’s really just one reeeeeeeeeeeeally long book (in three parts). Each SHOULD be stande alone, but at the same time, if I read #2 first, I would also want to be pushed to read #1 for the ‘back story’ and what-have-you. 🙂

    1. “if I read #2 first, I would also want to be pushed to read #1 for the ‘back story’ and what-have-you.”
      I’d like to think reading Blue Moon would instill this kind of reaction, and maybe Caged, too, when that one’s complete (although the switch of pov may be a contributing factor for anyone who connects with Ethan, as it may well be the other way round for those who connect to Jem–and Sean :)).

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