A new, more potent strain of Sequelitis has been discovered.
Of course I did what I do best: bust up what is clearly a sentimental Tweet between two old friends by putting the spotlight on myself:
I know what you’re thinking: #WhatAJerk
Fair enough. But it was a knee-jerk reaction (emphasis on jerk) to seeing myself struggling with the same stuff as real, published authors.
Which reminded me: I am a real, published author. Or will be in June. But in the midst of planning all the release day stuff, I am supposed to be writing the sequel. There are worse things than being greenlit for sequels, right? Still, it does tend to weigh on you.
Before, the tension came from wondering if what I was writing would ever get picked up. Now, I have to worry about getting it done on time!
Still, “Sequelitis” is a very serious thing.
As I previously defined it, Sequelitis is that gnawing, scratching drive at the back of a writer’s head that turns a perfectly good stand-alone story into a series. That obsession to find out what your beloved characters are up to lately the only way you know how: by writing a new story.
However, this new strain is induced. An obligation more than a drive. Who knows what might happen?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I can do with a Mage sequel. Quinn, Tristan–and even Selia–have plenty more quests ahead of them. The stakes are higher.
Deadlines, man. I tell ya. It’s college all over again.
But I loved college, so bring it on! I already got my trendy hoodies out of storage and a mini-fridge stocked with PBR! And, fortunately, the sequel is set in college–so I have an excuse to channel College Mikel. And guess what? My girlfriend can’t say boo about it because it’s my
career lifelong dream!
Much like a cold, you can feel Sequelitis creeping in. Today I realized my To Read List is all sequels. The Wise Man’s Fear, Goliath, Caine Black Knife. Even when I deviated with Riordan’s The Red Pyramid, I was still more worried about the sequel!
(Although, truthfully, I don’t think I’ll get there–Riordan kind of phoned it in on Pyramid, in my opinion.)
This symptom of Sequelitis doesn’t end with books either. My desire to watch movie sequels has grown too. Secret of the Ooze, Hellboy II, Ghostbusters 2, MIIIB, The Two Towers (arguably the best of the LOTR film trilogy).
And Empire Strikes Back. The greatest of sequel of all-time, right?
Sequels themselves fall victim to Sequelitis. An inflammation of the sequel. The key to a good followup book or film is tough to place. I’ve often tried to analyze what makes a sequel a success.
For starters, you need to have a story to tell. It can’t feel forced. Even if Book 1 was driven by fame and fortune, Book 2 better be about integrity. If a writer doesn’t care about his/her characters, it’s going to show. Like Mario 2. Fun game, but everyone knew something was a little…off. And sure enough, it turned out Mario 2 was a completely different game with familiar faces slapped on the characters in order to make deadline.
Secondly, a sequel should take what you know about the original and expand on it–not turn it on its ear. Like if your magic character from the first story turns out to be an alien and needs to get back to his home planet. Movies fall victim to these devices, because occasionally an actor needs a fast exit from the project, but in a novel–I think it just comes off as sloppy.
Thirdly, don’t get bogged down by action. Just because you have the origin story out of the way, doesn’t mean you can just steamroll through details. I’ve said it before: planning the party is usually more fun than the actual party. I can’t stand stories where Part I is about a guy getting super powers, and then Part II is just said super guy showing off said powers. Lame.
Look at me, talking like an authority on the subject. I realize this is my first book and I shouldn’t be teaching a writing class anytime soon–but I’ve read/watched plenty of sequels.
They are an art form all their own.
Okay, so indulge my fever: What’s your favorite sequel(s)? Book or Movie? How about the truly terrible sequels? What made them so forgettable?