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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sequels To Previously Published Work

Readers have  asked me about writing sequels to several of my stories like Isis, The Temptation of John Haynes, All About Marilyn and All About Nikki-TheFabulous First Season. While I’d love to work with those characters again, I don’t want to write Isis 2 All About Marilyn 2 or Temptation of John Haynes 2 because I feel it dilutes the richness of the original story.

I’m not a fan of writing sequels. Why? Because I feel a sequel is a rushed sloppy story tacked on to an existing story just to make a quick buck. (See Star Wars prequels, Spider-Man 2&3 and most street lit novels) It’s lazy, uninspired and unimaginative. It’s no challenge to write. In sequels old characters do crazy stuff to shock the reader, new characters are shoved in awkwardly and instead of a unique reading experience, the reader gets a formula that leads up to a flat reading experience. I feel I can write better than that and the readers deserve better than that.

I also don’t like sequels because I don’t want to be bogged down by the continuity of older stories when I’m writing new ones. While I may reference events from one story in another, there is no hard set of continuity rules for any of the stories I write. I want readers to be able to pick up any story I write and read it through without being forced to read a dozen other books to be up to speed on everything.

I believe every story should be an access point for new readers with its own beginning, middle, and end. If a reader chooses to read Isis and stop there then hey, it’s okay. And if they want to pick up other Isis stories like Trial of the Goddess to read about Isis’ trial before she got banished to the Island of Solitude  or Baptism of Blood to read about E’steem’s origin then cool. And if they want to fast forward to The Temptation of John Haynes to see what’s going on with E’steem today, great.

And if readers choose to read All About Marilyn and enjoy it, they have the option of readingAll About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season to see what the TV show she starred in looked like. And readers of All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season who want to learn more about the actress who starred in the fictional show, then by all means pick up All About Marilyn. While both stories are designed to be companions to each other, they’re written in such a way that a reader can pick up either volume and easily start reading it without having to dig in the backstory of the other.

Each story I write is self-contained and readers can pick and choose the stories they want to read.

I’ve seen this approach to storytelling successfully used by comic book editors like Jim Shooter and the late Dwayne McDuffie to get new readers into comic books and watching TV shows like Static Shock and Justice League Unlimited. Applying this approach to the publication of my stories over the past three years has worked well for me. Sales of Temptation of John Haynes have led to Isis sales. And people who read the free Isis prequels then turn around and read Isis. And I’m hoping Nikki readers turn into Marilyn readers and Marilyn readers turn into Nikki readers.

Yes, there will be follow-up stories to John Haynes, Marilyn, Isis, and even other characters in those stories. One day. I'm still plotting them and trying to find time to write them in between a job search. But when I do publish them, they’ll be single, self-contained volumes that stand on their own and can be read by themselves. Personally, I believe a new story with an original premise is a lot easier for new readers to access than a sequel that links directly from events from a previous novel.

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