Tuesday, July 11, 2017
TO SEQUEL OR NOT TO SEQUEL--THAT IS THE QUESTION by Karla Stover
Whether or not to write a sequel isn't an easy decision. Consider Dean Koontz who said, "Too many sequels diminish the original." or John Updike's pithy remark, "I suppose sequels are inevitable for writers of a certain."
One danger of writing a series is, how well you like your characters. Many writers grew to hate the people (or animals) they created. A. A. Milne was one. Milne wrote 3 novels, four plays and 18 screenplays but Winnie the Pooh outshined them all. "I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next," Milne said, but he grew to hate the "eclipsing fame of his beloved children's books."
It's pretty well-known tat Sir Author Conan Doyle had a love-hate relationship with Sherlock Holmes. Doyle tried to kill off Holmes in 1893 and resisted readers' outrage for 8 years before bringing him back. Here, in Tacoma, where I live, Doyle spoke at the Scottish Hall but refused to discuss Holmes. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, more than 70 actors have portrayed Holmes, making him the most portrayed movie character. Doyle undoubtedly would have recoiled in horror.
I was never a Hercule Poirot fan and, after a while, neither was Agatha Christie. She called him a douche, saying, "As much as I love the Poirot stories, one cannot deny the fact that he loved himself even more. He knew that he was always the smartest person in the room and acted accordingly." Christie killed him off and it seems no one protested much.
Most Little Women readers probably know that the author, Louisa May Alcott, based the character, Jo, on herself. They may not know that her own three sisters were the prototypes for Meg, Amy, and Beth. Readers may also not know that Alcott didn't want to write the book. She wanted to write literature and pulp fiction. When the editor at Roberts Brothers Publishing Company, Thomas Niles, tried to interest her in writing a book for girls, she said she wasn't interested in writing "moral pap for the young." Only after Niles offered a contract to her father did Alcott give in--writing Little Women in 10 weeks. According to http://intestinalbookworms.blogspot.com by at the end of three-book series, "Alcott literally wanted to blow up the boy's school in which her main character lived and worked."
And consider this: Bella Swan and Edward Cullen of The Twilight series regularly feature on lists of fiction's most disliked characters. Not that it hurt sales, but still . . . Also on the lists are Holden Caulfield, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, Hamlet, and Beth March.
Hmmm, perhaps it's best to remember what Kingsley Amis said, "If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing."