1. TheClintHennesy
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    TheClintHennesy Member

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    When planning ahead- the difference between a story with a sequel and without one?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by TheClintHennesy, Sep 12, 2015.

    Hi Everyone! How you all doin! :D

    So- Let me just get ahead with the question. Just as what I've written for the topic-

    When you guys plan a story, do you include sequels/prequels or anything along with it?
    Or do you plan the entire thing and then cut it into segments?

    I know there are no hard rules in writing/storytelling- but hearing some experience from you guys regarding this would help me understand more about the planning phase. :)

    Like- for example- when the plot for Hunger Games all the way to the Mockingjay was made, do you think that it was a planned to be 3-book trilogy? Or Did the writer make the first book, and then decided "I wanna continue more on it." (Just an example- no need to be too "technical" in terms of story."

    Why I'm asking:
    I'm currently working on this project/collaboration at the moment. We've decided for this current project to be a "one-shot." The story starts and ends within those 22 pages. After this, then we would decide if we would want to continue working with each other or not. We already have the plot and it ends in good closure. The problem is, if we do decide to continue on this story/character, well... The last thing I would want to happen is make those "Sequels that never made up to its predecessor." Which is why I'm asking from you guys on your thoughts. :)

    Thanks in advance! And I hope this thread would help anyone else as well who are having sort of similar questions but haven't posted it up yet! :D
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer standalone books, so that's what I write. I think if you want to write a series you should plan it all out first to avoid the plot dictating your writing rather than the other way round. What I mean by that is you could include something in the first book, even a small detail, that later restricts what can happen in the series. Think about how much Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and the Chamber of Secrets are relevant to The Deathly Hallows. If JK Rowling hadn't had a loose plan in place, would it all have come together so neatly at the end?

    She started writing and realised she had too much material for one book. I read that in an interview with her somewhere.
     
  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Each book who me have a resolution of sorts. It's frustrating to read a book that just ends. There's also different kinds of sequels. One has one overlying story with smaller stories in each book. The overlying story is the main plot. The other type of sequel is more like two different stories that happen in the same universe. Romance novels do this second kind where the brother or sister of the main character in book one is the main character in book two.
     
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  4. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Depends on the type of story you're writing. Some books are better left solo where some are made for multiple installments.
     
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  5. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    Sequels explore a wide age range or a big adventure. Look at movies. Luke joins the rebellion, the empire fights back, the last stand. Or Batman comes back, mob gone joker in and then fight for the city(aka last stand)

    Books or stories build upon each other and then there is this big fight or event from which there we see no future event(the story has finished, but sometimes the force reawakens)
     
  6. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    How trilogy's work:

    1st book/movie: A stand alone book that introduces your characters and plot. It ends with closure to the book and there is no need to write anymore books if you do not want to.
    2nd book/movie: Something happens that means your characters have to come back and are fixing something/got into trouble/etc. The ending of this should be a cliff hanger and make the reader ask questions.
    3rd book/movie: wraps up anything that happened in the 2nd book/movie and ends nicely (or a sad ending whichever you want).

    I suggest following this otherwise you will get a Bulletstorm:
    A great story with a cliffhanger ending only to have it's sequel canceled.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, this topic matters quite a lot to me. While I've written a stand-alone novel, my next novel is a direct sequel to the first one. (And I've planned another two after that as well, containing many of the same characters later on in their lives.)

    What happens in the first book can't be changed, once it's published, so I need to work within the perimeters I've already set. It's a good idea to salt a few memorable details in to the first book that may not seem important, but will acquire importance as the sequels develop. I've salted quite a few of these details into my first novel, including one which will not actually matter until the third book.

    My biggest problem with my second book is whether or not to make it a stand-alone as well. I've only written the first four chapters, and started in right at the end of the first one. My first book is emotionally complex and has already been written. It's not easy to re-tell that story as part of the second book's story without boring the previous readers—and yet it's important for the new readers to know what happened before. I'm more inclined to just carry on as if it's a direct sequel to the first book, rather than start from scratch. I will probably just include a separate synopsis of the first book for people who haven't read it. My approach may change, but it's what I'm doing at the moment.

    The most important thing when writing a series of sequels is to be careful about backstory, and realise that if a particular character is born in July in the first book, they can't be born in May in the second book, just to accomodate the plot. Stuff like that. Make sure the background details you salt away in the first book are ones that won't derail your plot in the second book.

    That means one of two things:

    1) Your first book AND its sequels are carefully plotted from the beginning, so all the details are consistent

    2) Or your second story will be confined by what you've already written in the first one

    It's a tricky thing to get right. I won't know if I've got it right till my second book is also finished.
     
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  8. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    You could always pull an "It" and just combine the sequel with the current story you have.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure what you mean? Pull an It?
     
  10. TheClintHennesy
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    TheClintHennesy Member

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    Right. But then again, for Harry Potter, it the stories were based of School and its' years, so ending Harry Potter on the "First Year" would have left cliffhangers.
    I mean, the entire time, it was to "defeat" Voldemort, and he never actually appeared till the later parts. So Harry Potter definitely was planned to be more than 4 books.

    But I guess that is something that would spice things up. Include things from your earlier books to your ending and wrap them up nicely. :D

    Yeah- I guess that's why I'm asking here.
    Right now, it's a standalone- and if things go well, me and my friend might continue to work on a sequel for it. But I think asking the people around here really gave me a good perspective on it. :D

    Mmmm... Haha, when you mention this, I tend to forget that when you "release"/publish something, the audience only knows and sees what you've published. xD
    Sometimes, I work on a project so much, I tend to forget that there is/was so much work behind the finished product. xD

    Wow. This was an answer I really got a lot from!
    First book- Introduction to Character and a bit of plot.
    Second Book- Introduction to the actul plot.
    Third Book- Resolution.

    But YES- I know what you mean.
    There are some series/shows that end with a cliffhanger- and then what? Cancelled. :(

    Right. It's definitely a perspective to think about.

    I wanted to ask the people who have actually done sequels and how they approached it.

    1- Planning the book and its' sequels sounds like a lot of work in actual execution. This means that if you plan your first story for the first book- wrote the book, and wasn't quite pleased with it/not planning to continue on it, you'd end up 1/3rd of the story- disappointing the audience.

    2- If you wrote the first one and ended it pretty well and want to make a sequel, you'll be restricted to what EVER was released from the first book. This can definitely be a big problem in "plot" if you put out very detailed information on the first book.

    The last thing we would hate is when you 'ret-con" something cuz it wasn't planned very properly. :p

    Also,

    Thanks for the replies everyone. This definitely helped me heaps in understanding sequels and their planning.
     
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  11. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    Well there you go, study the batman movies. I loved the way the last part explored both the dark knight and batman begins.
     
  12. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Guess that wasn't the best way to put. Stephen King's It is known for it's long length... the story takes place in one book, but the book feels like it could've been multiple books. Basically just combine both the sequel and first book into one.
     
  13. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Are you talking about the good Batman movies or those Christian Bale pieces of shit?
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm trying not to laugh. I understand what you're saying ...but my first book is 210,000 words long! And it is already a stand-alone doorstop–err, book.

    There is nothing wrong with writing sequels to books. It's done all the time. Another book about the same characters, or the same locale, etc. Even if length weren't an issue with mine, it would not make sense to combine the two. The 'second' book is set in a different locale with only a few of the original characters. It would split the story right down the middle. The first story is done and its arc is completed. There will be emotional carry-over from the first book that resounds in the second, but to combine it all into one book would not make story sense.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  15. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    what part of the dark knight and batman begins you not understand, of course i'm talking abt the recent films
     
  16. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    I've generally been of the opinion that its nicest for each to be capable of standing alone- stories that don't kind of go in a different category for me (e.g. Lord of the Rings- released in three parts, but definitely only 1 story/book). If you don't have them all planned out before deciding on sequel or not, then definitely, each needs to be stand-alone. Sure, reading its predecessors might enhance the reader's appreciation/understanding of some things... but not necessarily (Regina Doman's Fairy Tales retold would be one example; technically, the first three are a trilogy, but each is enjoyable by itself- they all have their own plots and themes, after all).

    For my own story with a sequel, though... I've planned it all out, partly b/c I wouldn't get anywhere with it otherwise, and just in case I can't do the 'It' smashing-altogether-thing... the length has also made me think it can't be the first thing I put out... different factors to consider.
     
  17. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    I'm sorry you had to watch those.
     
  18. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I have come to realize recently that I am writing a series, and not a single book like I originally planned. I realized I have far, far too much to put into one book. There are multiple stories demanding to be told in this same world, which is at once exciting and exhausting. I just have to figure out the order in which they should be written, which may not actually be chronological. Each one will be standalone, in that each will have its own resolution (more or less.) And hopefully, you wont need to pick up one of the previous books to be able to jump in to a book further down the line.

    ETA: As far as planning goes, right now I am planning each story as part of one great story, as if each one were one mammoth chapter. Later, when I get down to writing each one, I will flesh them out into their own plot arcs with proper rising and falling action, try-fail cycle, and climax.
     
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  19. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    no i rather enjoyed myself
     
  20. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    no i rather enjoyed myself
     
  21. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Some of us enjoyed those movies. Maybe not every aspect, but certainly much more than the cheese fests of Batman-films-gone-by. Some of us like what Nolan does as a director, and the other Nolan does as a writer.
    Fortunately opinions are not fact, so our enjoyment of the films is not inherently wrong or offensive.
     
  22. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    maybe, but your replay was much welcomed
     
  23. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Two of the best sequels in the film world are, of coarse, Aliens and Terminator 2. They are stand alone stories, based on the original stories with some characters that continue on, but you don't need to see the first to understand the second, and you don't need the second to conclude the first.

    Be open to a sequel, but never rely on one to conclude your first story.
     
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  24. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    I write out the entire plot first and divide it up by what will happen. I hate leaving cliffhangers, but that seems to be how a lot of mine end up... Oh well. I feel like it would be greedy of me if I were to sit down and say... this idea's worth, heh, uh, six sequels. I'd also have to think of things to fill those sequels in with and that's a dilution progress at that point.

    Write however much story needs to be told.
     
  25. ClassyCanuck
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    ClassyCanuck Member

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    Firstly, I'm doing well. Thank you for asking. How are you doing?

    Now to answering the question you posted.
    For the series I'm writing at the moment, what I did was decide how many books I could see this series being and if I could in turn have enough information or storyline that would work with that amount or if I would have to cut down the series to fewer books.
    After I chose a number I went onto summarizing what pov and the events in each book.
    From there I do chapter breakdowns starting with how I want to start the book and all the way to the end, summarizing what I want to focus on in each chapter.
    After that I expand on the chapter summary and reference the book series summary to make sure I don't repeat subjects (unless needed) and find ways to bridge the books together. :p

    So, I basically go with the idea of planning out the whole series before going after the first book. That way you have a plan to follow and don't get distracted from the goal.
    Of course things will change and ideas will be added later to smooth things out, but in general this is the process I use.
     

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