I actually got on this topic because of the following video:
Now, I would like to clarify that I am aware Phantom Menace is a prequel, not a sequel. I do understand the distinction. But it’s basically the same concept — you’re continuing a story that’s already been established.
So here’s my question to you — how do you write a good sequel?
I am currently reworking the sequel to Imminent Danger, that book I keep babbling about that I will be self-publishing sometime this century. And I’m racked with self-doubt (“wracked”?) because it has to be as good as the first book, but I’m not sure how to make it that way. As the fast-talking man in the Star Wars video says, sequels/prequels need to be new and original, but they also have to evoke a feeling of familiarity. So how do we achieve that delicate balance?
My current strategy is to write the story I want to write, then get someone else’s opinion on how it holds up as a sequel. I can’t be a good judge of that, because I wrote it. I’m too close to it to see it clearly for what it is. I think that’s where George Lucas went wrong – he was so confident in his own artistic brilliance that he disregarded other opinions, hence the mediocrity of Phantom Menace and, to a slightly lesser extent, the other two prequels. I’m not going to lie, I actually do quite like Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (parts of them, anyway), but there’s no way I would ever call them better than the original trilogy.
Another thing I’ve tried doing is going back and reading the first book and writing down the things that I liked about it, the things that made me laugh, the things that made me “awww!”, etc. Then (hypothetically), I will take that list and apply it to the sequel.
I don’t know. What makes a good sequel? How can you ensure a sequel’s as good as the original? Can an author be trusted to reliably evaluate their own work?
Cool news for Chuck/Thor fans:
Zachary Levi (Chuck!) has been cast as Fandral in the upcoming Thor sequel. Fandral, to remind you, is Thor’s Asgardian friend, the skinny, blonde, mustachio-ed guy with the rapier. Or was it a legit longsword? I don’t remember. Anyway, I’m extremely excited because I love Chuck, and I love Thor, and it’s going to be awesome having them together! Click here to read the article and watch Zach’s interview with Leno.