Wednesday, December 10, 2014

To Sequel or Not To Sequel: It's a really hard question

Now that Rite of Rejection is out in the big, bad world and readers are finding their way to "The End", I'm getting one question quite a bit:

"There is going to be another book, right? Right?!?"
 And I have an answer that should satisfy no one: Probably.

"Um, Sarah," you pipe up from the middle of the book. "Um...what?!?"

Intentions
When I sat down to write this book, it was my full intention that this would be a stand alone. For those of you who have already finished, yes, that is the ending that I originally planned. Yes, I'm a tad bit sadistic. If you've ever watched my videos, you know that I tend to be a bubbly, outgoing gal. But I compensate by writing slightly dark stories. Go figure.

I want to avoid any spoilers here for those of you who haven't read the book yet. So let me just say that I felt the ending accomplished everything I wanted to and I felt at peace with where I left my characters. That said, I knew some readers would not be amused.

Reality
As soon as I started getting Beta reader comments in, I had a feeling I wouldn't be able to leave this novel as it was. Even though I got very few complaints about the ending, almost everyone wanted to know what happens next.

So, I sat down to write an epilogue. For some reason, I really fought the idea of more books and thought I could satisfy reader curiosity with an extra chapter. Think the last chapter of the Harry Potter series.

I probably wrote a half dozen different iterations before it became clear that an epilogue was not going to work. They all came across as weak to me and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was ruining the ending (which I love!).

The Debate
I decided to publish the book sans an epilogue. I'd rather leave a reader wanting more than to present something I couldn't be proud of.

With that decision, I also sat down to put together some ideas on how I might continue the series. As a result, I now have an outline for a second book. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't figure out a way to resolve everything in a second book, so if that happens, I'll need at least one more book to finish it all out.

Up in the air
I say "if that happens", because I'm still not completely sold on the idea. I've got around 20K words written so far and it's... okay. I realize I'm being overly hard on myself and comparing a first draft to a completely edited novel, but I'm an author, so I'm allowed to be irrational. Also, and this is a biggie, I have absolutely no idea how to end the series.

Seriously, no idea. I've been let down by the ending of a few trilogies lately and that has me all kinds of stumped. I know what I don't want, but that's like saying out of the numbers 1 through 1 billion, I don't like the numbers 18 and 364. Their are still so many ways the plot could work toward a conclusion.

Decisions
So here's the plan, I need to finish the first draft of book two and make certain I can put something out there that I can stand behind. And, I have to know how a third book would resolve the story. I absolutely cannot ask readers to invest in more tales from my characters without being certain that I can give them a satisfying resolution for sticking with me.

I've set a personal goal to finish the draft of book two by the end of the year and then re-evaluate. Of course, I'll keep you all posted. And feel free to nudge me so I stay accountable to my end of year deadline. If there is going to be another book, I'd like to have it out by late spring/early summer 2015, because I know how much it sucks to wait for books.

Your opinion counts
I'd love to hear from you. If you've read the book, would you read more from these characters or are you okay with leaving it as a stand-alone? For the writers out there, have you ever written a stand-alone that turned into a series or vice-versa? What made you change your mind?

4 comments:

  1. Maybe I'm crazy, but I liked the way you ended the novel. One huge problem with dystopian novels is the lack of hope or if there's hope, then the lack of reality. Society simply doesn't change overnight. Your characters are in for a long haul fight to make things better for all. Do I want to read about that fight? I'm not entirely certain. It's bound to be long, grueling, and sad.

    Sure I'd like to read more since I enjoyed the characters... but I'm also happy where you left it. Sometimes things are better left unsaid, hope for a better future intact instead of blown up on a battlefield.

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  2. So ... I was surprised at the ending, when I came across it, and I spent some time mulling over it, but I don't know that a sequel IS necessary. I would read it, if there was one, but I don't need it to feel satisfied with what the story accomplished. It was an interesting choice to end the story where you did, certainly, and I like that it left some ends open for me to fill, as a reader. From Rebecca's story, I got the impression that she hoped to be a catalyst for change, but didn't necessarily believe she would be the one to invoke THE final change in her society. And I think this is realistic. She knew there may not be a happy ending in store for herself, personally, but that didn't stop her from acting to make a difference. And that is the most interesting and compelling to read about.

    I wonder if readers are expecting/demanding a sequel, simply because that's what we've been conditioned to look for, especially with speculative YA fiction. There's often a sequel (or a trilogy). But it doesn't have to be that way. I'm beginning to look forward to more stand-alone books, myself.

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  3. I would definitely read the second book. There were a lot of things I would've liked to know.

    Knowing the end is pretty critical, even if it's a vague idea. In all my stories, including my fantasy series, I always have an idea how it starts and how it ends. Certain aspects might change, but the base is there. If you can't envision the ending, sit on it for awhile. In the meantime, work on something else.

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  4. I just finished your book. Quite literally a few minutes before I started writing this to you, so my emotions are a little raw at the moment. I like the way you ended the book. There is still hope and there are resolutions to a lot of the plot lines, but I find myself wanting--needing to know more. Do I think a second book is absolutely necessary? Probably not. After some time passes I can see myself settling on this ending. It makes sense and it stands out from most dystopian novels. Do I want a second book? Absolutely. I want to now what happens to Daniel, Becca, and Elizabeth. I even want to know what happens to Eric. I found myself wondering about Becca's family and if they're thinking of her and more about their lives after she was rejected.

    Basically, I want to know more. If you left it as a stand-alone I'd understand but I wouldn't be fully satisfied. As a writer myself I wouldn't want you to compromise your story just to stretch it out for us, but if you did decide to add another book I'd be very happy with that.

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