Why No Direct Sequels?

Hi Jim,

I was in the process of writing a sequel to my novel and was actually curious about something. Reading through your posts, you seem to have a bit of a bias against direct sequels. I was just wondering if you could explain why?

Thanks,
Rana


Hi Rana,

Sequels have their place in a limited capacity IMHO. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the market in both movies and books, sequels have sprung up to be a lot more than they should be.

Ask yourself…

Did we really need or want a sequel to The Last Unicorn? How was the story served by beating a dead horse? Did Two Hearts really add anything that we really needed to see, or was the ambiguity of The Last Unicorn’s ending all that was really necessary?

How were the characters from the Phantom of the Opera served in Love Never Dies?

When will Hollywood open its eyes and realize that they’re never going to make a Jurassic Park as good as the original and this series is just getting painfully and progressively worse?

Now granted, these are rather extreme examples from their respective mediums, but I could literally write an Epic Novel of all the horrible sequels that have absolutely ruined great stories. In most classic literature, there were no sequels, or if there were, they were very rare. A writer would put everything into one epic novel and that would be it.

So why have sequels exploded?

Well… I think there are a few reasons for this…

First and most obviously, money. Publishers really don’t want one-offs. They want continued stories that they can cash in on. As a result, writers who otherwise only wrote one book would then be forced to go beyond ‘happily ever after’. The result would be a forced, contrived, and almost always inferior product to the original. Others would take their one Epic novel and break it up into several novellas or smaller novels. There are some advantages to this, obviously. Readers have to pay for more books, which keeps the publisher happy, and it’s a quicker read for people who are just looking for a fun but brief romp.

Secondly, attention spans… A lot of people have trouble reading as it is. So a lengthy novel isn’t something a lot of people are going to be into. This is especially true with younger readers. The attention span just isn’t always there. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one we all have to live with.

Finally, extended stories. There’s always going to be many of these out there. In some cases, no matter how you swing it, one book just isn’t going to be enough. You’re going to need more space and no one wants to try to put out another Les Miserables. It just won’t do well on the shelves with a high price tag or… lack of portability.

The end result is the market being flooded by unnecessary sequels that do nothing to add to the world they were set in and are typically panned by readers and often forgotten.

So while I do believe that sequels have their place, I do not believe that they are as necessary as the market suggests.

So let’s say you’re like me and you’ve written your masterwork, but the publisher wants more. You’ve finished your story, all loose ends are tied up, and there’s nothing left to do. Happily Ever After is Happily Ever After, right? Well… not if you want in published in the traditional sense.

So now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. A major selling point for your story has been cut off. What do you do? Well, if you’re a fool like I was, you put your foot down and say that you really don’t have any plan on writing a sequel to the story. At which point, you can kiss goodbye most chances of a publishing deal.

Thankfully, there are always ways around this. I started writing sequels to my stories by… not writing sequels. Basically what I did was write a new story in the same universe with different characters and either the same or a different enemy. Then you connect them by having characters or locations from the previous story make cameos or get honorable mentions.

So to answer your question, I don’t really mind sequels, as long as they’re used appropriately and not an obvious cash grab. They have their place, but I don’t think they are as necessary as many want to believe. They often do a lot more damage than good. Anyway, I hope this clears this up for you. Feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Why No Direct Sequels?

  1. Good post, quite insightful. Whenever I do writing, I always do a series of books as opposed to 1 big story. That way I not only have more time to flesh out individual arcs and stories, but it also allows for me to work around the whole ‘sequel’ part of writing since I’ve been able to expand the lore and world to an acceptable length.

    Like

  2. Great answer! I’m not a fan of sequels or series for this exact reason. There are a few cases where the story needs more space than one book, but most are unnecessary cash grabs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ICT Graver says:

    I used to love sequels, but that was decades ago when it wasn’t as bad as it has gotten. I stopped reading Raymond Feist’s Midkemia series and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series because they devolved into cash grabs.I caution new writers who think that 10 – 20 book series are the way to go, but my advice falls on deaf ears most of the time.

    I like your way around writing sequels as that’s a better solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One way to prevent yourself from writing yet another sequel is to kill off your main character. That’s what I did.

    Like

  5. […] James Harrington Blog  – Why NO direct sequels?  […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s