I hear a lot of complaining in the halls of Stephen Kingdom about sequels. Dark Tower purist squawk that King slipped Wind Through The Keyhole into the Dark Tower series. Though, not as much as they complained when he revised the Gunslinger! There is likewise a lot of concern about the upcoming Doctor Sleep.
I think Sequels can be a great thing.
A Few strengths of a sequel:
1. The author does not have to start from scratch building characters. The reader already has an emotional investment in the people inhabiting the story. Thus the Empire Strikes Back doesn’t have to give us long stretches on Tattooine, but can leap quickly to guys riding on Ton-Ton’s. We immediately know who both of them are, their relationship and rivalry.
Consider with Doctor Sleep, King does not have to take time telling us about Danny’s phytologist, his friend Tony or what Shining is – because that work has already been done. He is able to hone in on the story itself.
What made the second Dark Tower book so much fun for me was that a lot of the heavy lifting and background work had been done in Gunslinger. So the story could open quickly, with the each scene.
2. The author can flesh out ideas that were only hinted at in the original story.
3. The reader gets answers to questions that were left open. For instance, what happened to Wendy and Danny? What is their relationship? How did Danny’s gift of Shining affect the rest of his life?
4. Clarity. A sequel gives the author more space to make issues even more clear. If anyone thinks Jack was just crazy, that King wasn’t telling us about ghosts – then Doctor Sleep will make it abundantly clear that this is a ghost story! Of course, the only person who didn’t get it the first time around was Mr. Kubrick.
5. Sequels kick the happy ending in the face. You thought everything was dealt with, wrapped up and tied with a bow. . . but the sequel says, “not so fast, buster. Things are not as neat and clean as Mr. King at first lead you to believe.”
King does not do a lot of sequels. In fact, all I can think of is Black House. I have yet to explore The Regulators, so I am not sure how to classify it in regard to Desperation. Some would argue that his endings are so bad, he can’t pick up where he left off! I am not one of those. I think King has so many ideas, there is little point for himt o try and tell new stories with old characters. Meeting new people is part of the fun. (I’m guessing here)
Charles Dickens did not use the sequel. Each book was complete in itself. Like King, he was criticized for the length of his books, but at least each book told the full story on his heart. (Now, what in the world was David Copperfield really about?)
Sometimes Hollywood has given us a sequel to their theatrical version – usually without much success. I think the best of the King movie sequels was Pet Sematary 2. There were several Fire Starter sequels, a Salem’s Lot sequel and a few Children of the Corn sequels.
My Favorite Sequels:1. The Empire Strikes Back. It is my favorite of the Star Wars movies.
2. World Without End. The followup to Pillars of the Earth. It is not as strong as Pillars, but it was a joy to read.
3. Return to Cold Sassy Tree. I liked it, event hough Olive Anne Burns died before it was finished.
4. Piercing The Darkness. Famous Christian author, Frank Peretti wrote thsi book on the heels of his fantastic work, This Present Darkness. Truth be told, I think Piercing the Darkness is a stronger story.
5. Toy Story 2. I know it’s a movie – but it was better than the first.
Who has a right to write a sequel? My wife read a sequel to Gone with the Wind. . . but it was not by Margaret Mitchell, the original author. I said that was cheating, but she disagreed. But think about it, it is cheating! The author is taking someone elses characters, climbing into their heads and making them do what the original author never even thought of them doing! Cheater – Cheater – pumpkin eater!
As I tried to think of famous sequels, I realized: There aren’t that many that really make it big. There are lots of series of books – Lord of the Rings and so on – but not so many squels that really grab readers. Still, I hold out great hope for Doctor Sleep.
What’s your favorite sequel? (Stay with books, even though I strayed)