Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tell Me Something Good: Sequels

I have the song, Tell Me Something Good, stuck in my head thanks to Glee. Yes, I'm not quite a full-on Gleek, but I like Glee. Enough to possibly own all the soundtracks. Anyway...

Tell me something good - your opinion - on writing a sequel to a work that hasn't yet been sold. I met Lynn Colt of Type a Little Faster at a coffee shop on Thursday, which was fun! It's so nice to meet other local writers... I miss my old writer's group in California and I'm dreaming of starting/finding another. Lynn helped me out with a dilemna I've already been mulling over...

The Goddess of Vengeance is just dying for a sequel. I've already realized that even though there's a villian introduced (peripherally) in The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes, I don't plan to wrap up that storyline, even though Pink Galoshes can stand-alone quite nicely.

I've not written a sequel before - well, not a real sequel. I wrote endless series about the same characters as a kid, but I didn't exactly have a strong sense of craft back then. :)  So a part of me is very curious to tackle the sequel to The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes (tentatively to be titled "The Goddess of Vengeance Wore White", delving into both Nemeses' romantic history and Lauren and Jake's relationship).

But that also seems a tad unproductive - I'd be losing out on the time to work a different story, one that might have a better chance of publication, by working on a sequel. After all, if my craft is improving all the time (as I certainly hope it is!) Goddess 2.0 might be better than the original, but it wouldn't be saleable without Pink Galoshes. I'd like to believe The Goddess of Vengeance Wore Pink Galoshes is publishable - I'm very partial to this story and I think I've written it decently well - but it's hard to judge your own work.

Lynn suggested that it's best not to write a sequel before you have a market for it - because the first book's been sold.  She thought it might just be too heartbreaking to go through the effort of writing a sequel that will never see the light of day! And I think she's convinced me. I'll make copious notes of my ideas for the Goddess of Vengeance as a series and let them rest until I (maybe, hopefully) someday need them.

What's your take on sequels? Have you any sequel ideas that you're writing or waiting on?


Kathryn said...

I think it depends on the genre. A lot of them can generate some great sequels. For what I'm writing, I'd prefer not to write sequels. For my last MS, I wanted my characters to go and find peace somewhere and live happy lives. I didn't want to bring them back onto my Word document anymore. But it all depends on the writer, the book and the genre.

Jemi Fraser said...

Most of the agent blogs I've read suggest not writing the sequel until you've sold the book. I'd definitely write an outline or notes - keep an idea file for it though. You'll want it all fresh for you when the time comes - and it will :)

Old Kitty said...

I guess having a very concrete idea for a sequel to your unsold first novel is a really really GOOD thing to have when trying to pitch/query. It's always great to be able to say that this book is not a one off but has sequel potential - it shows you're a long-term investment to the agent/publisher!

As to whether you should write it anyway... yikes!! No idea! LOL! Sorry!

And Go Ms Sylvester!! "i didn't notice, I was bored!" Hah!

Take care

Kittie Howard said...

I agree with Kathryn that it depends on the genre. Having said that, I've read many books that begged for a sequel. Yes, the original ended nicely but the characters were such fun or tickled the imagination so that the reader wants to keep up with them.

Ellen Brickley said...

When I grow up, I want to be Sue Sylvester :)

I've never written a sequel but the next idea I plan to tackle has the potential to be the first in a series. I promise to pop back and tell you what happens!

Donna Hole said...

I wrote a trilogy, and still haven't sold the first novel. Honestly, I think the second book is the best. But my MC journey wasn't completed with book one, and although it has with book two, there were other characters to explore in 3.

I haven't put a lot of energy into revising the last two - that question of why invest a lot of time into sequels if the original doesn't sell. But I felt the story needed to be complete for my own sanity, just so I could move on with a clear slate.

I personally love sequels and series novels. But each sequel has to have two purposes fulfilled: the original, underlying plot concept has to be moved along; and the current story has to have something accomplished on its own. Something that needs accomplished to move forward in the main plot, but stands alone if you haven't read any of the other series..

Boy, did that confuse you more? Basically I'm saying, if you feel compelled to write the second novel, do it. For me, writing that sequel helped reorganize and clarify some concepts and characters in the first novel. I was glad it didn't sell before the sequel was finished - at least in rough draft. My first novel is much stronger because of needing to lay groundwork for events in the sequel.

Good luck with your decision, whichever way it goes.


Summer said...

I agree with Donna. If it would give you satisfaction to write the sequel, then do it. I think it's fine to have your eye on the publishing prize, but at this point, we're still writing for fun, and if the sequel would be fun--then go get it!

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love Glee- Sue Sylvester is hilarious!

I've never written a sequel, but I like the idea. You'd already know the characters!

Taryn Tyler said...

sequels are tough. I've never been able to manage one that really satisfied me enough for me to finish it. You have to stay true to the original but still bring something new into it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just writing fan fiction of my own work. but if it calls to you I say go for it. ;D

Shelley Sly said...

I have sequels in mind for many of my books, not always planned that way, but sometimes I finish and realize I could continue the story in a sequel. I can see my MG novel going as far as 6 or 8 books, in my delusional little mind, of course. ;)

I agree that it's best to write something new, then consider writing sequels once a book has been accepted for publication. It doesn't hurt to plan or outline potential sequels, though.

P.S. I've talked to Lynn before about possibly meeting up sometime. I'm in MD close to the VA border. Maybe the three of us can get together in the future? :)

Ricky said...

Great characters deserve sequels.