Tag Archives: sequels

Sequels and the Art of Repetition

When I  heard that the sequel to THE MAZE RUNNER, THE SCORCH TRIALS, will be available October 12th, I wondered how in the world Dashner could revisit such a narrow construct. THE MAZE RUNNER had a fantastic premise: kid wakes up in a maze and must find his way out. There was more to it, but that’s the basic idea. So what could a sequel possibly entail? Dashner can’t exactly stick the kid back into another maze without suspending disbelief further than readers can manage.

Actually, the sequel will follow Thomas and co. as they cross a scorched wasteland in a race to reach a safe haven. But that description leaves me scratching my head—how does that story connect to a story about a kid in a maze? Certainly it’s poised to answer questions left up in the air at the end of THE MAZE RUNNER, and it will bring new challenges, and—I hope—more puzzles to solve. But is that enough to create a coherent series? Perhaps navigating this wasteland will be similar to navigating a maze?

I had the same issue with THE HUNGER GAMES. I loved the first novel, but it left me wondering how the sequel would revisit the main premise: girl must fight to the death in an arena, on camera. I’ll confess that I found much of the set up of its sequel, CATCHING FIRE, to be boring. But I loved the last third of the novel, when Katniss was thrown back into the ring. Some said that that particular plot point was too much of a stretch—but I welcomed the familiar construct. Now how was Collins going to revisit the premise yet again?

I’ll keep this discussion spoiler free and just say that I appreciated her attempt to recreate the structure of the games without actually instigating another round (that certainly would have been completely unbelievable). Katniss and co. still had traps to evade and opponents to fight. Our hero worked toward the same goal she set in the beginning: Defy the Capitol.

I suppose I’m a fool for repetition. If I love the original book, I hope the sequel will provide the same joys. I don’t just want the story to continue, I want it to cycle. Or rather, to spiral—to move forward even as it repeats. But it’s a fine line a writer walks between reprising and repeating.

Do you enjoy sequels that repeat the original premise or do you prefer for the author to find new ground to cover? Which sequels do you feel have the perfect blend of old and new?

Parker Peevyhouse is a master maze-navigator

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Don’t Let It End

All the buzz right now is about the latest book in a certain trilogy. Some of us on this site have written series or sequels. I wrote the Haunted series and Linda Joy Singleton’s work includes the Dead Girl and The Seer series. Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest was recently followed by a sequel.

What author wouldn’t like to have a series, whether the original contract is for several books, or a single title is so popular that readers (and the editor) want a sequel? And what reader wouldn’t want to return to a favorite literary world?

And yet, series can be a hard sell. Some publishers of course focus on series, typically the direct to paperback, open-ended type. I sold Haunted (about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, for ages 8 to 12) based on a first manuscript, series proposal, and outlines for books 2 and 3, to Aladdin, a paperback series publisher. But most publishers want to see how a first book does before they request a sequel.

“Characters that carry over a number of books certainly work well, but this isn’t the same thing as a series,” a former Llewellyn Acquisitions Editor said in an interview. “I’d rather see a strong standalone with sequel potential. If a single title works and the main character isn’t too old, it’s rarely a problem to continue the story into a new book, if there’s interest.”

Another editor commented, “I wonder how many trilogies or series were conceived as such—and how many began as one-offs that performed well and/or became bestsellers, at which point authors are often encouraged to write a follow-up.”

I wonder as well. As a writer, perhaps the best thing you can do is to bring your first book to a satisfactory conclusion, but leave the sense that the characters will go on to have other adventures — and wouldn’t it be nice to read about those?

This is also comforting for the author, who doesn’t feel as much like she’s abandoning her characters forever. (I ended my historical fiction novel The Well of Sacrifice with the characters heading off to a new Mayan city. I imagined their adventures, though I never wrote a sequel. Some teachers who use the book in the classroom have students write about what happens next.) This is a bit different from “And they lived happily ever after” — unless you believe that happily ever after would involve new challenges and adventures!

As readers — or writers — do you like to feel that a book is complete and self-contained, with no questions or concerns left for the characters? Or do you prefer an ambiguous ending that suggests challenges ahead? Something in between?

The Well of Sacrifice

The Well of Sacrifice is a drama set in 9th-century Mayan Guatemala.

Chris Eboch likes happy endings!

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Right now in Speculative Fiction

catchingfireFrom Presenting Lenore, we hear the first public viewing for The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, will occur at BEA. Think those babies are going to be snatched up pretty quickly? Now how can I get one?

fragile_eternityMelissa Marr’s hugely anticipated sequel (is this the right word for third in a series) Fragile Eternity has launched. Melissa is bringing us back to the story of Seth and Aislinn and Keenan. Me? I’m looking forward to it. And one great thing I love about reading books is being able to recommend them to others.

Do kids like speculative fiction? Check this list out before you answer. There are some amazing speculative fiction books on this year’s YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten Nominations list.

Stardate 05.07.09 – Need I say more? dscn2170

And finally, the stuff science fiction was born from. Is Gliese 581 d or e the next Earth?

pjhoover_casual1

PJ Hoover is ready for other planets to be colonized.

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