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Sunday, December 19, 2010

So You Want A Sequel?

Every time I read a sequel, I end up asking myself the same questions: Why did I (and other readers) want another book so badly?

The only answer I can come up with is that sequels are, in essence, a necessary evil.

Let me start by pointing out what I find to be the problem with sequels. It seems that the basic plot for 99% of the sequels out there is: girl and boy had an epic romance that enchanted readers, and now they face another problem. (There’s not much of a problem in that. In fact, it sounds pretty good.)  In the start, they’re all happy and lovey-dovey. (Still no real problem.) But then said problem – or some other complication – tears them apart/complicates there relationship beyond belief. (Problem!) Girl and boy then make up during or around the climax. (Aw, yay!) Then, usually if there are to be more books in the series, something goes horribly wrong at the last possible moment, leaving readers to agonize for months. (Need I say more?)

Yes, that may not be the case with all sequels, but most of my favorite books’ sequels seem to follow that pattern or a similar one. And if such a pattern holds more or less true, then, surely, all readers (like me) who ask for sequels must be masochists.

Think about it, you read a book and fall in love with the characters, so much so that you simply must have more of them. Thus, you wish for a sequel, in which you’ll most likely have to witness all that you loved be torn to shreds, and probably end up in an even worse situation. (That is if they both even live to the end of the book.)

The funny thing is that even though I know this is true, I still desire sequels to my favorite books and get excited to read them, knowing full well what I’m in for. And when my favorite characters inevitably fall apart, I still get mad/sad/upset with them.

Thus, sequels (or even subsequent books in a series) are really a necessary evil. I’d rather have an awesome, heart-wrenching sequel than not read anymore about my favorite characters. The authors may make me angry at times, but that anger usually only makes me love the books more. In order to inspire that anger, the authors had to really make me fall in love with those characters and care about what happened to them, and that’s good writing.

The Sweet Far Thing, Only the Good Spy Young, Crescendo, Beautiful Darkness – all sequels/subsequent books that made my jaw drop in a mix of surprise, horror and anger, but that I still adore in spite of this.

And so, I will continue shamelessly reading sequels in that masochistic way of mine, as I’m sure many of you will too.

4 comments:

  1. Great post. I have recently scrapped the idea of a sequel to my "now" finished ms, Breaking Ice. After lengthy conversations with my editor, I decided a sequel wasn't necessary and the characters, even though I love them to bits, couldn't really bring much else to the story. It would have been writing a sequel for the sake of it.

    If however, a publisher insists on a sequel, then I might have a rethink!!! But the girl/boy issues simply won't be an option. I find it too predictable and corny.

    CJ xx

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  2. I have a love/hate relationship with sequels. I think that Hush, Hush did a beautiful job in the fact that it left questions, but not plot holes so it could have almost stood alone if it wanted. But there are alot of books (I will not name them) that I feel are just written so they could make money off of the sequel... That's just my take.

    Great post though, it really got me thinking!

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  3. I don't know what you're talking about, Only The Good Spy Young and The Sweet Far Thing were good!

    But yeah, I get the point, a lot of sequels suck.

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  4. I love sequels because I want to read more about my favorite characters, but you're so right. One sequel tactic that always drives me nuts is the new love interest. A third person thrown into the mix to tempt the protagonist away from her guy from book one. You're right, we are masochists!

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