I am a firm believer that there are too many sequels out there in the world. Every movie I’ve seen lately has had just enough left open at the end that everyone in the audience can say, “Whoop, well there’s Movie 2 for you.” And there is inevitably a Movie 2, and probably Movie 3, 4 and Reboot coming as well. So many major motion pictures are being split into two (I’m looking at you, Breaking Dawn…Deathly Hallows…Mockingjay…ahem.) or if not that, into three (ahem, Hobbit) and I sit back and wonder when the madness is going to end. Can’t we make new things anymore? It seems like everything is forced to happen, whether we like it or not.
…So what happens when I look at my long-worked-on novel, and realize…it has a sequel?
I’ve known for a while that my on-going project Son of the Revolution was probably going to imply a sequel. Even with the action of the first book wrapped up neatly, there is a major situation still at hand by the end. At first, I had no interest in writing any further books. My story with Alistair and company would wrap up with the end of Revolution, and I’d leave the rest to the fanfiction writers. (I have such high hopes…)
But the longer I’ve spent with it, the more I begin to see how a story could unfold…and I want to tell it. For the first time since 2009, Alistair has a new story he wants to share with me.
And I’m terrified.
I honestly haven’t written new subject matter–genuinely new subject matter–for Alistair in five years. He was my second finished NaNoWriMo project, and since then it’s just been tweaking his original story. I’ve learned his home life, his past relationships, his interactions with his roommate… I’ve spent so much time in his first story that I’m scared to tell a new one. He’s one of the most “real” characters in my mind to me…and I’m afraid I’ll write him wrong.
Because Revolution changes Alistair. A great deal happens in that book, during those two weeks or so, that alter who he is and how he sees the world dramatically. He is not the same person when he returns from the end of the novel. (I suppose that’s a spoiler? Is telling your audience that the character survives a spoiler? I don’t know. Sorry if you feel spoiled.) He’s experienced death and loss and pain, he’s learned core pieces of his past and who that could make him, he’s needed to make decisions he’s not proud of. He’s spent the past fifteen years of his life refusing to grow up and move on from the boy who was originally infected.
He can’t hide anymore. He’s matured, moved on from his past, attempted to start over–again.
It’s a side of the character I’d love to explore. I want to see how he’s changed, what he does differently, how he deals with certain people now that the tables have turned. I want to see the repercussions in the world. I want to look into how the society he lives in has reacted to the events of the first book.
But the curse of the sequel still weighs on my mind.
The first one was better. It’s just a grab for money. Couldn’t they come up with a new idea? Ugh, another sequel. I’ve said them all before–I’ve heard them all before. And I don’t want my book to become that. I want people to see what I see: a world of characters I’m desperate to know more about. I read through my manuscript earlier today checking for the last few edits, and spent half of the time spinning in my chair with a huge grin on my face going “OH MY GOD I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS SO MUCH!!!” I came across lines I didn’t even remember writing–but absolutely loved. I yelled at the characters as they did stupid things, I cursed the antagonists, I teared up at the deaths. I love these characters. I have spent 2 years working on this draft, making it the best book it could possibly be, and I fall in love with these characters each and every time I work with them.
I want to do them justice in a sequel. I don’t want it to look like a haphazard attempt to wring more out of a tired plot. Because I don’t think it is. But I’m worried.
Today is the beginning of the July edition of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to participate. I may start with a few short stories of the unseen moments in the first book between side characters, or interlude stories between the two books, just as buffer to decide if this is what I want to do.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to write a story.
What do you think, my faithful audience? Sequel? No sequel? What are your thoughts on serieses (serii? hrm.) of books? What should I do?
(Other than learn to write blogs on time, hah!)
See ya next week!