Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Thoughts on Sequels

I spent the last few months working on a sequel for my first published novel, The Dark Lady. When I wrote the original book, a sequel was the last thing on my mind. Then I began to wonder what would happen if it sold? Not a problem, the tale was far from finished, so I threw myself into the task. One tiny question kept bubbling in the back of my brain as I worked on volume two, Is this the end, or is there still more? After wrapping up almost 90,000 words I can safely say, Looks like there is another Dark one lurking out there. What might be even more important, I still enjoy telling the tale.

When I attempted my very first novel, I set out to do a complicated trilogy. I thought that would make it easier to publish. After all, it would prove that I could finish what I started. It is still hiding in my closet. When I finally finished it, I could imagine a whole series based on the characters and setting. I guess I didn’t want to let them go on their own way. After the usual series of rejections from the majors, I filed them away.

Since then, most of my manuscripts start out designed as a single, complete story. But once I type "The End" I start to wonder what else the characters might be up to after I’ve closed off the page. Unless you wipe everyone out in some major catastrophe, at least one of your favorites is alive and well and shouting from the page that they want to be heard. How long can you create the magic you felt writing the original story, before it starts to feel stale? Maybe someday I should have another peek at that original trilogy, to see if it is as bad as I thought.

I can see why some writers may become jaded, or worse, bored, while writing a lengthy series. I know that every once in a while I get an itch to write something new. I think writing could turn from a joy, to a job, if you had to tell the same story over and over again. Writers need a challenge, a change of setting, a new villain, an exciting new character you might fall in love with all over again.

When you set down to write a novel, do you think of it as being a single project, or do you suspect/hope there will be room for more of the same?



John said...

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Big Mike said...

I always plan on each novel being all it can be with a new fictional world, new characters, and new theme. Why? I enjoy creating and living in a new realm I never visited before, until I wrote FINAL SOLUTION. Once I got half way through I realized the theme in my mind was too involved for one book so I simplified it.

After my publisher read my submission they asked if I thought of doing a sequel. Never did one before so I figured what the heck, I'd give it a shot, and I did enjoy it. However, that's it. Had a couple readers already ask if I was working on another sequel, and no I'm not. The story stops with part 2 - FINAL TRUTH (if accepted by the publisher). However, if some production outfit offers a million for a run at the screen, like they did with "Flight of the Intruder", that changes everything (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I think in single titles, but my December release of MEDIUM RARE practically attached itself to my Penny story in KILL FEE, and is the one and only sequel I expect do.

January Bain said...

I just start and it takes me where it does. I'm just along for the amazing journey, though everything I write can also be considered a stand-a-lone as I make sure you don't have to read all the many parts to understand the stoy. The Forever Series, I'm writing book five. Others, only one book will happen. I also work on more than one book at a time now.

Gina Gao said...

This is a really good post! I am currently starting my first novel, and I'm really excited about it.

Liz Fountain said...

Some of the authors I love most have characters that recur in a semi-consistent world across several novels: Carl Hiaasen with his crazy ex-governor of Florida, Skink; Christopher Moore, with the wonderful Minty Fresh; and Jasper Fforde, with one or two characters that go from Book World to the Nursery Crimes division - and its all in Swindon. My own writing is mainly stand-alone, with characters and places that I hope will want to visit my imagination again some day.

Liz Fountain (