A Bit on Sequels

A sequel?

What is it about sequels that people like so much? The movies are glutted with sequels and publishers and editors will love you if you offer a book that is not just a stand-alone but ready for sequels (which, after two, becomes a series).

Is it that people fall in love with the characters and want them to live on and on? Or is seeing the same characters in story after story something that is comforting and familiar in a constantly changing world? Whatever it is, sequels are in demand.

But is a sequel always a good thing? Sylvester Stallone should have stopped at Rocky III; instead, he dragged the character through three more movies. Even one sequel can be horrendous if not done properly. Staying Alive anyone?  (That was the less-than-stellar follow-up movie to Saturday Night Fever.) Let’s not even discuss prequels.

When I started writing Twice Bitten 20-something years ago, I didn’t really thinktwicebitten beyond that one story. Originally titled Fiona’s Plan, I never saw the book as sequel material. I had ideas for other stories, of course, but a sequel to Fiona’s Plan? Nah. Even after Twice Bitten was published, it still didn’t occur to me. I began making plans for other novels but the story of Fiona, Rose, and Ursula was a done deal.

Then, a couple of people asked me if I was writing a sequel. My immediate response was “no.” But then I started thinking about it and the possibilities for story lines opened up to me. Now my response is, “Mmm, maybe. Why the hell not?”

These characters have been with me for a very long time and their story has gone through many transformations. Maybe they deserve another chance to be heard. I’m seriously considering it, although it’s not at the top of my priority list. I’m in the throes of writing another novel and I’m eager to finish it. Then, I will probably work on another one that I’m currently researching. But who knows how I will feel once I’ve finished the current work-in-progress? Maybe I’ll decide that Fiona et. al. are screaming at me to continue their story ASAP.

Some writers thrive on writing sequels; others hate them. They feel that their stories are complete and there’s nothing more to be told when that last page has been turned, even if their readers clamor for a sequel. Ultimately, it’s up to the writer and her vision.

The trick is to make the sequel as good or better than the first. Make it worth the reader’s time and money. Make them want to read more, not wish that the characters had died with the first book.

The possibilities are there. And I’m grateful for the inspiration.

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