Sequels and Other Such Difficulties

I have a fondness, in my personal reading, for interconnected books. Not necessarily a series, but books that share characters, or are family sagas, or give a favorite secondary character a chance to step into the spotlight. I also like getting a glimpse of the ‘happily ever after’ and seeing that indeed, it still exists.

Sidebar that just occurred to me and isn’t part of the planned post: this is what killed Star Wars for me. Having the relationship between Leia and Han be acrimonious, and their child a psycopathic killer, broke the characters and the world for me beyond any forgiveness. I’ll never watch Star Wars again, early or later films. Particularly not when I know that there are novels that were discarded by the ‘new’ canon where there was a much more wholesome and hopeful dynamic.

Back on my original thoughts… Sequels are a pain for me, as a pantser. I’m not sure every pantser has this issue, but getting back into a story (particularly if there’s been a gap) and remembering all the details to keep the characters and settings recognizable is a bit of a pain. However, writing another story that meshes with the first? I can do that more easily. Which is probably why the story that ambushed me in the shower on Wednesday has been flowing so well over the last couple of days (I’ll finish it later today). It’s after Farmhand, and set in the same town of Bluehills, but the central character is one of the side characters in that story. One of the primary characters in the first story makes an appearance here, as well… as do other secondaries. It’s meshing very nicely.

I had to go back and re-read Farmhand in order to get all the details squared away. Since I wrote it seven years ago, and hadn’t looked at it since, that was…weird. Almost stranger was the First Reader re-reading it (since I loaded it on our shared e-library) and commenting that it was really good, he’d forgotten it and why hadn’t I written more since that one was done? Something about that amount of distance, or, to be very honest, my poor memory, made it feel like I was reading someone else’s work. Strange.

One thing, though, it makes me internally giddy to write a happy continuation for a character. I think this is why I have a soft spot for romance, both in fiction and real life. These days, it’s because I’m happy with life and love. At other points in my life, it was wanting those good things for myself. Goals, ephemeral and impossible and yet… here I am. Taking all of that and translating it into fiction is fun, and makes the writing of it easy. Not that the story is all sunshine and roses. The story opens with a sombre and tragic close to a beloved life. I mean for it to end with hope and promise as the sun sets and the moon rises.

I’ve also slipped in a reference to the happy couple in the first story. The one I’m writing (working title is Drema Little Dream, but that’s likely to change) is set about six months after the first one. Enough time for some things to have taken place, but not others. Although the end of this story might also coincide with a bit of news from that first couple. I wonder if that will take away from the resolution of the secondary characters, or just make it a bit more joyful? Will have to ponder that while I’m out on the birdwalk this morning, and write it when I get back.

My intent is to continue to write inter-linked stories in this town, weaving in and out the secondary characters. Re-reading Farmhand made me realize that I’d left open several avenues for this, as it was my plan all along, and I’d like to explore those, and find what stories lie along the way. Every story won’t necessarily touch every other story. However, the world will become firmer and more defined as I go, and expand. Anyway, I’m having fun writing something I like to read, and that’s the important bit right now.

The main character in the current story is the Diner waitress, Drema, from Farmhand, if you’re curious!

20 thoughts on “Sequels and Other Such Difficulties

  1. I just wrote a crossover character. When I was putting together the stories in Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts I put out a call for Red Shirts, and I used the name of a friend of mine for a corrupt cop who is pressured into resigning from the force at the end of the story.

    Now I’m working on a new Magus Vetch (same city, different group of characters) story, and I decided to bring back the cop from the earlier story. He’s working in the private sector now, and doing well for himself.

  2. Heh. I don’t write sequels. I write short stories where Twitch pops in without my agreement, takes over, and points it off to become a novel. Except the last, where Twitch must have taught AJ, because he simply, quietly, stubbornly, wasn’t done until all the bodies, and the issues they’d brought with them, were permanently disposed of. And then I had a novel instead of a short story.

    Well, Dust of the Ocean is set in the same conflict, though not the same planet, as Shattered Under Midnight. I don’t think that counts. I’ve considered marketing them as a series, because it’s easier for readers who like such… but then I’d have to come up with more, for two books does not a series make.

    1. I discovered that saying, “This is going to be a stand-alone, I swear” is a guarantee that the illegitimate offspring of the Killer Plot Bunny and Good Idea Fairy will inflict itself on me. Nine books later …

  3. “Having the relationship between Leia and Han be acrimonious, and their child a psychopathic killer, broke the characters and the world for me beyond any forgiveness.”

    I was disgusted when the third prequel had Queen Amidala transform from badass warrior babe to weak and watery useless victim. The final nail in the coffin was Yoda running away and hiding like a little beeotch. It really bothered me. I’ve seen the other prequels multiple times over the years, but not Revenge of the Sith. Lucas wears that one, all by himself. He wrote it and he directed it.

    The first Disney reboot, I did not expect much and was not surprised when I didn’t get much. Disney theme park ride. Acceptable, not particularly objectionable, Daisy Ridley was well directed and came off looking completely fabulous. She carried the whole picture.

    The rest of it was Hollywood boilerplate. Han Solo ends up old and alone, with no friends and no ship? That’s boilerplate. That’s how rich Californians always end up, divorced and wandering around the Playboy Mansion like a shade from the 1970s. Because they are scum of course, but none of them ever seem to get that part.

    The follow-on movies are all the same schlock, characters broken for the sake of a plot point, no hope, no honor, no glorious destiny, nothing. But buy the merch!

    Rather than let it go at the usual kvetching I usually do, who -isn’t- doing that in Hollywood? The John Wick movies. Characters remain true throughout the series. Honor is upheld. The glorious destiny is achieved. Best of all, no merch. Although if this Canadian gets to buy a signature John Wick .45, in some alternate universe no doubt, he won’t turn it down.

    1. The thing that bothered me most about Solo ended up doing the Hollywood shade thing is, it still betrays the character from the original movies. Part of the point of his character arc was that he grew out of being a scumbag.

      Having him turn back into that, that hurt to see.

      1. I’m reading your comment, and I feel like I need to defend myself for having seen that movie.

        Is that what they mean when they talk about “powerful film making”?

        1. Sorry if it came off that way. Most of my posts are written in haste and edited mever. (Save by the occasional automatically)

          It is just a sequel (or even an epilogue) taking a character and erasing all of their growth has been a frustration of mine since War and Peace did it.

            1. Don’t feel ashamed. In my younger and stupider days, I sat through Incubus (1966), White Comanche, and Tender Dracula. I don’t like the Star Wars sequels at a story-telling and philosophical level but there are many, many levels of movie hell beneath them, ones where you feel flat out embarrassed for the cast, and wondering what combination of professionalism, ego, alcohol, and sheer stupidity keeps them from looking embarrassed by the experience.

  4. As far as writing a series, that is what I’m doing. Same characters, same problem set, digging away and peeling back the onion layers going deeper and deeper into the alien rabbit hole. Every time they think they’ll have a happily ever after, some new irritant pops up and tries to destroy the world.

  5. In the fanfic thing, I’ve found I have the most fun writing interlocked stand-alone stories. It’s interesting having a larger story building out of the smaller ones, but it is also nice having individual stories being able to stand on their own.

    The was something I enjoyed about both the Vorkosigan novels and the Dragonriders of Pern. I never got to read all of those or in anything even like order.

    The Grimnoire Chronicles were like that too: you did not have to read the books in order to enjoy them. I actually started with Spellbound, and had no idea it was the middle book in the series. Heck I loaned that book to people who had never even heard of Larry Correia and they enjoyed it.

    That’s really powerful.

  6. Series is normally something that happens to me when I want to play with the same hero template from different angles, and the easiest way to make it happen is “they are all related.” Male leads of first Jaiya books=brothers. Third Jaiya book was written several years before the other two, and retconned in by making the heroine a fairly distant cousin to the brothers (her grandmother was sister to their grandfather IIRC). Fourth Ancestors of Jaiya book features the parents of the two brothers, third one features the parents of their father, and so forth.

    My space opera duology is the only continuing adventures storyline I’ve tried so far. my fantasy mystery WIP might take that format (hopefully longer) if it turns out well. The steampunk Dunedain thing looks like it’s trying to be a two or three book arc about the main characters with some room for spinoffs-with-relatives.

  7. I tend to story in sets. Right now mostly seems to be Trilogy. Though I’ve got one set of stories in one world that seems to be sprawling out into one of those ‘it’s all connected around this one town’ (though the two series in the same world but else where, seem to be following more normal, for me, patterns). So far I’ve tried to keep them rather complete in and of themselves.

    I don’t even commit series/Trilogy on purpose. I write out of order so when I truck along I suddenly realize a set of scenes doesn’t fit the book, but does fit the story, well… there I go. (What happened with Bearskin. I’ve got pieces of Spun Light and Silver Nightingale and a few I’m not sure which of those two they go into.)

    All this is why I’m trying to get my world bibles together to make finding the information easier. (Search functions are my friend.)

  8. Writing a sequel means that you’re coming back to where you’ve been before.

    You don’t have to build most of the things again.

    But you start seeing the flaws in the construction that you missed in the first place because you were too busy putting up a roof and staying dry.

    1. Also, the perfect set-up for the original house may be a hinderance to the addition.

        1. My current possible series in progress has me casting off ideas into potential sequels. I note that some of the world-building in the first is altered to make the sequels possible.

  9. Ah yes, starts/stops and where the stories and characters end up going are…a challenge sometimes… That’s why my trilogy turned into 6 books and two novellas… sigh

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