A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, July 6, 2012

To Sequel...or not?

So... Our New Book has been read, and it was great. It brought tension and romance and excitement and mystery into our lives for a while - now we can shut the book, or turn off the e-reader, take a deep breath and relax into the memories.

Or do we think ... what happens next?? What happens after the last page is turned? Do we care, either as authors or readers?

I recently hosted a joint blog post with a fellow author A. B. Gayle about Sequels and Spin-Offs. We both write mainly romance and it's all about creating sympathetic Main Characters, a plot conflict (either external or internal), a romantic journey and resolution of that conflict. Pop in some sexy smooching, in my case, too :). And then - the Happy Ever After!

But when readers say - I wanted more! / I wish I knew what happens to them after that / What about Secondary couple C+D? / How can you leave it there??? ... what's to do? A.B. is writing a sequel to her latest novel right now. I've never actually written sequels, but I am considering a spin-off for two secondary characters in my erotic m/m romance novel True Colors.

But SHOULD we? Isn't it just that the readers enjoyed the characters and that's why they'd welcome reading about them for longer - NOT that it means we should write more? Or did we leave trailing plot lines? Frustrating romantic entanglements? A sense of unfinished business?

As A.B. and I see it, there are a few different options:
1. The Epilogue where the author makes sure all loose ends are neatly tidied up.
2. A short story, published separately, showing the characters living happily together. Holiday themed stories that authors write involving their popular characters are an example of this.
3. A follow up story where unresolved external issues from the past intrude.
4. A sequel where the nature of their personality differences or their living conditions provide new / unexpected conflict. (the factors that can tear them apart)
5. Ongoing books in a series where their jobs and/or world allows for ongoing adventures that are as interesting and significant as the parallel romance plot which develops over the series.
6. Spin Offs involving minor characters in the first book which show the ongoing relationship of the initial characters in their own secondary role.

Each of these has a place depending on the characters and circumstances of the initial book.

My opinion is that a book should stand on its own as a rewarding story, whether it's part of a series or not, and that there should always be a full, new story to tell in the next one. But I've liked revisiting characters occasionally - and we put enough love and attention into them the first time around, it's sometimes difficult to let them go! And there are MANY successful series published now, including those from the NYUS authors.

But do we run the risk of losing the tension of book#1 / disappointing readers' expections, already racked high from their enjoyment of book #1 / disappointing ourselves as authors, craving new challenge rather than revisiting existing?

Or is it one hell of a blast to dip back into a favourite character's life, and share it with your readers?

Is it a case of listening to the Clamour For More - or Quit While You're Ahead? :)

This is a non-judgemental and hopefully entertaining post - but I'm very interested to hear what you say!

Clare :)

The full text of the blog post I did with A. B. Gayle is here.

The "Keep Calm" pic is with credit to
Pic from "Oliver!" is with credit to the copyright owners.

Clare London, Author
Writing ... Man to Man

Website ... Blog ... Facebook ... Twitter


Jordan Castillo Price said...

I've had stories that ended with everything wonderfully resolved and still heard the feedback: "I want to read more." It seems best to just take that as a huge compliment rather than a signal to get to work on the sequel. As an author I feel like I need to understand all the intricate guts that give a story structure and that the onus doesn't fall on the reader to understand how it's made, or what's structured correctly for a sequel and what isn't.

When my non-writer friends say, "That would make a great story!" they're usually wrong because they're pointing at some incident either with no conflict or no satisfying resolution.

Maybe ego comes into the equation too. If enough people say, "I want to know what happens next," your subconscious might start working on another big conflict for your characters to overcome and provide you with a fab idea for your sequel. Nothing wrong with that!

Clare London said...

Hi Jordan! I think that's how I've viewed that feedback in the past - as flattering, but not necessarily something I wanted to take further myself because I felt the story was a complete package in itself.

Though I'm also pleased you think feedback can also inspire a sequel. I'm pretty sure that's what has poked me about starting a spin-off from True Colors :)

Thanks for dropping by!

Rita said...

What a great post Clare. You hit the nail on the head and Jordan slammed it home. I've taken a few knocks for my ending not tying everything into a neat package. Readers said I want to know more. I take that as a huge compliment because they were so vested in the characters that they thought about them and what they would be doing after the book ended. Writing a sequel can be difficult because the reader may have already established in their mind where the characters they love went. They may not agree with where you take them. Bottom line is we are the authors and the story creators.

Toni Anderson said...

I have a sequel to my first book that I never did actually publish. First pub went bust and I didn't think the story was right for the subsequent publisher. So I feel like that's unfinished business even though the first book stands alone. I hate it when authors disrupt the HEA to write a sequel with the 2 main characters--then I feel cheated. But a continuance of the story, or a new story for secondary characters are things I love :)

JB Lynn said...

I've got a sequel coming out in October so I've been wrestling with this issue myself. I've got to say it's rewarding when readers are excited about a sequel coming out, but it's also nerve-wracking since I worry it won't live up to their expectations.

Elise Warner said...

Stimulating post, Clare. I know I'll be thinking and debating with myself re the book I'm working on now.

Tam said...

I think unless there is something large and unresolved, it's best to just end it unless you do the little holiday shorts for a glimpse of their happy ever after. Just seeing how they cope with one being a slob and one being a neatnik or one is vegan and one is carnivore is a bit of a weak premise for an entire book. And how many stalkers or harrassing bosses can a couple have? After awhile it gets old and boring.

I prefer sequels when they feature another character or duo from the book (you can still get a little taste of the others sometimes and see they are truly HEA) or I like it where the conflict is external to the couple, like Jordan's Psycop series. Sure there is relationship growth and change within the story, but that's not the plot driver, it's the mystery, murder and mayhem that are the main focus. But even then, I think an author has to know when to say no.

Us readers are like young children. We always want more more more and we don't know what's good for us. Author's have to be the parents sometimes and say "No more, that's enough, it's over. Go to bed." Sure we'll whine and throw a tantrum, but tomorrow we'll be over it, especially if you offer up something new and fun for us to explore.

Cathy Perkins said...

Terrific post

I agree with you when I think about straight romance, where the central conflict is between the main characters. With other genres, especially suspense or mystery, I enjoy a series because the main character can continue to grow and develop.

Becky Black said...

Oh I love sequels ans series - reading them and writing them! (Working on a series right now.) I love to follow the characters' relationship over a long period of time. Getting together is great, but it's just the start. I've read all of Charlie Cocharane's Cambridge Fellows books, and love watching that relationship grow change. I love Josh Lanyon's Dangerous Ground series and I'm working my way through his Adrien English books. I'm also a couple of books into Jordan Castillo Price's PsyCop books. So yeah, standalones are great, but if I really like characters I want to read more about them.

Plenty of my characters won't leave me along after I finish my stories. They hang around in my head doing adorable domestic things and being happy mostly. :D

Marcelle Dubé said...

I don't lean toward series at all. I tend to read the first one in a series, and then never read the rest, even when I enjoyed the first one. The only recent exception I can think of is Louise Penny's Three Pines series.

Despite this illogical aversion, I find myself writing not one, but TWO series: the Mendenhall Mysteries and the A'lle series.

I never said I was rational.

Shirley Wells said...

Great post! I love writing and reading series. I don't have to read them in order but, if I love a character, I can never wait to meet them again.

More Popular Posts