Another topic (was Re: Identifying with characters)

Robyn Starkey rohina at
Mon Dec 1 20:54:52 EST 2003

>Are they uniformly terrible, like movie sequels supposedly are?

No, absolutely not. I think movie sequels tend to have much more of a 
financial emphasis, whereas a writer may want more money, but generally has 
to want to expand on an idea to have the energy for a sequel. Hey, maybe 
that's an answer to:

>Why are terrible sequels so bad?

Coasting. Just doing it to make more money. Not challenging an idea or 
trying anything new or different, but rewriting the previous book with less 
creative energy.

>What makes a sequel good?

I think this seriously depends on the development of the author. Lots of 
writers' second/subsequent books are better than their firsts (Pratchett, 
Rowling,for example). Some authors clearly get to a point where they stop 
pushing themselves creatively and are happy to churn out the same thing 
(even recycling plots *cough* McCaffrey *cough*). Maybe there's an economic 
incentive, in that surely really popular writers get less editorial 
criticism, but then Pratchett and Rowling are both examples of not letting 
financial success prevent improvement in writing.

What makes a sequel good is evidence that the author has questioned the 
original and thought about where it might go. This is why DWJ sequels are 
always interesting. Even if you don't like the direction she goes in, you 
can't deny that she thinks about her previous writing from different 
angles. (Momentary sidetrack: I would love her to write a sequel to 
Archer's Goon, all about Awful getting powers.)

>Is it still a sequel if it's intended to be part of a long series?

I was thinking about this. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I think some series 
can have sequel series. I was thinking about Robin Hobb's Assassin books 
and now the Fool books. Each trilogy is very much a single idea and thought 
process, so maybe book 2 of Assassin isn't really a sequel, but the new 
series is definitely a sequel to the original 3 books. Hobb is an example 
of a sequel being as good as the first series, but not startlingly better, 
I think.

I think Pratchett always writes sequels. Maybe it's the issue of 
self-contained stories within a series?

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