Sequels aren’t always a great idea. Often they are written or produced (in the case of movies) because there is a lot of money making potential if the first release went well. People naturally want to see more.
I’ve read some bad ones. Catch 22 had an appalling sequel, compared to the first book. Didn’t know it even had a sequel? That’s how it compares to the original. Meh. The Eragon series, in my opinion, went downhill. Not only was the movie bad (I don’t even want to go there) but the sequels seemed to get progressively longer, more winding and seemed to have less substance. I don’t have a problem with long and winding (Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite stories) but it has to be going somewhere and doing something.
There are books with sequels that, while not quite matching up to the hype of the first books, don’t do a terrible job of continuing the story. Bryce Courtney’s Power of One has a sequel (I know right? I was almost a third of the way through it before realising what I was reading was in fact related to the Power of One) and it’s not bad. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one but I like the characters and the story moves along and it does provide growth. Both for the reader and the characters. It was worth writing.
And of course there are books that deserve and have fantastic sequels. Harry Potter would have been a very long single book and I don’t think it would have worked as one. J.R.R Tolkien couldn’t have pulled off the same extraordinary storytelling that he did without the thousand odd pages he wrote, and that would have, once again, been a very big book.
I only approach the subject of sequels because I recently finished the first draft of Abel’s Legacy, a deeply personal story for me and what was meant to be a short stand alone novel. However. One of my characters wants her own moment in the sun, metaphorically speaking, and I am going to give it to her. As it stands the work won’t be a sequel in the Lord of the Rings sense; you could probably read book 2 without ever reading book 1, but there is context provided in the first book that would make the second easier to understand.
This shouldn’t vex me, the whole concept of adding a sequel, except that when I pitched the idea for Abel’s Legacy to a friend, he told me that it could only ever be one book and it couldn’t be very long. This friend is no literary genius. He’s not a publisher or a figure of authority in my life. He’s just a friend. The only thing we have in common is writing. I know what he said shouldn’t necessarily stop me from doing what I want but for some reason his statement has stuck with me. I know I’m not writing the sequel for sequel’s sake – the first book isn’t even being pitched to publishers yet! Where would be the advantage? Plus, I already have a first book with two sequels (The First Tail, The Second Tail and The Last Tail) that isn’t attractive to publishers. I don’t actually want to collect rejection letters as a hobby.
I’m not writing this because I want to decide whether or not to make the second book happen. It’s happening. It’s tentative title is The Code of Hammurabi and I know it sounds like an Indiana Jones movie but it’s not going to be even close. I’m writing this because I want to make known ( to whichever faceless nameless entities are paying attention to me) that despite what other people say, I am going ahead with a project. That statement might mean absolutely nothing to you. You probably don’t know me, so that would make sense. But I need to make it. My creative integrity depends on it. I don’t want to be pushed around by publishers or family or friends. I want to write what I write and if the character wants fifteen books and an oil painting then I am damn well going to do it!