Monday, August 18, 2008

Series And/Or Sequels . . . What's Your Take?

Late last week, I got a call from an old friend who works in a hair salon. She and some of her customers had been discussing my novel After The Dance and wanted to know when they could expect the sequel or part II. These ladies were serious as all get out and even had a list of things they wanted me to do in the next book (LOL).

Okay, a part of me fully understands and appreciates where they're coming from. The truth is, I deliberately left a few things hanging/unresolved at the end of After The Dance. Why? Well, primarily because tidy (everyone lives happily ever after) endings make me GAG, but also because a small part of me felt the need to leave open the possibility of doing something else with these characters.

For the record, I'm not a big fan of sequels or serials, when it comes to books or movies. It's been my experience that most of the time the follow-ups aren't anywhere near as enjoyable or entertaining as the first ones anyway. So I'm saying, besides the potential financial gain, what's the point? Yeah, I know for some folks, that's the only point (smile).

Anyway, my son reads a lot of stuff with dragons, wizards, fantasy and the like and lately, just about every book he drags into the house is part of some 6-book, 12-book or 20-book series. Dang! What's up with that? No, I didn't read the Nancy Drew series as a kid and not more than a couple of the Three Detective series. Okay, I did sorta kind get into the Henry Huggins and Beezus crew. But as an adult, I can barely stand the thought of reading about the same set of characters for more than one--possibly two books. In addition to boring the hell out of me, writing about the same jokers book after book after book would no doubt turn me into a raving lunatic.

So, while I listened to my friend and her customers' advice and laughed at some of their suggestions, I didn't make any promises. I do love the characters in After The Dance and I probably wouldn't mind writing about them again . . . at some point . . . in the future. But for now, I'm still weighing all of the pluses and minuses.

What do you think about sequels and/or serials in general? Do you love them? Hate them? Can take or leave them? If you've read After The Dance would you like to read about those same characters again? If so, which characters and what sort of things would you like to see me do with them?


Damika said...

Ms. Johnson, I LOVE sequels! It's like watching your favorite television series, but better. I can understand you not wanting to continue to write about the same folks, but I wouldn't mind reading about them again.

Lori said...

Hey Ms. Damika,
First, please call me Lori, okay? You know I remember you from the Davis Kidd signing in Memphis, right? (smile).

Second, thanks for sharing your views on the subject. Looks like I'm gonna have to give it some SERIOUS consideration because more than a couple of folks have suggested I pull Carl, Faye, Nora, Squirrel, Scoobie, Betty and Uncle Westbrook back out for another go round (LOL).

My Mom says if I do decide to write a sequel, I need to have Scoobie bumped off. My girl at the hair salon said I need to let Carl give Scoobie a real beat-down.
I have a few crazy ideas of my own, but what do you suggest? (smile)

Radiogirl said...

Lori ... I am not a fan of sequels for the reasons that you stated - mainly, the sequel will not live up to the original; rarely does that happen. So don't fall to the pressure. I liked After the Dance just as it was. I do kind of like previous characters briefly showing up in another book though.

Lori said...

Hey Radiogirl,
Thanks for appreciating my point of view. Hmm, a brief appearance in another book . . . now that's a thought (smile).

Yes, there is plenty of pressure to follow the trend. Even a bookseller I spoke with recently was all gung-ho about the idea. According to him sequels help build the fan base and bring folks back into the store.

One of my fears is, if I write another "After The Dance" I may possibly box myself into writing that kind of book, over and over and over again. Even if profitable, for me, that would be akin to a nightmare. (Shudder)

Emanuel Carpenter said...

I wouldn't dare suggest what should happen in the sequel but I do have a title suggestion. How about "Way After The Dance."

Of course I would be up to reading a sequel to your novel. The characters are like old friends you don't mind visiting and finding out what they've been up to. Plus there is lots left to be discovered. Just don't wait ten years to write it.

Lori said...

If I do decide to write a sequel, I suppose it would be a good idea to incorporate "dance" somewhere in the new title.

I'm glad the characters seem like old friends to you. Actually, I feel that way about them too. They still take up quite a bit of space in my head (LOL).

I don't think it'll take me ten years to write . . . but seeing it published is another story (smile).

bettye griffin said...

Get used to it being asked if there will be a sequel. I'm not particularly fond of these myself (which I believe puts me in yet another minority), but I received so many requests for a sequel to my book The People Next Door that I'll have one out in 2010. This isn't too bad, because the first book was published in 2005, and that 5-year bridge allowed me to craft a story that brings in new situations featuring characters who played just minor roles in the first book. Going on about the same characters continuing to behave badly and not learning a damn thing has been quite profitable for a few writers, but that bores me.

People are asking me if I'll do a sequel to Once Upon A Project, which is about lifelong friends turning 50. I tell them probably . . . "when they're turning 60."

I think that most writers like to create new characters and situations, but I say if you feel you've got a good plotline to continue After the Dance, then do it. But it wouldn't hurt to write something with other characters as well in between the two, to satisfy your creative hunger as well as please your readers.

Here's to writing the neverending story (sigh) . . .