Whomp Upside The Head IV: Return Of The Big Stick

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Title: Whomp Upside The Head IV: Return Of The Big Stick
Date(s): April 3, 2001
Medium: online
Fandom: many
External Links: Whomp Upside The Head IV: Return Of The Big Stick, Archived version
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Other Essays by ljc

Whomp Upside The Head IV: Return Of The Big Stick is an essay by LJC.

The topic is fanfiction sequels.


Once upon a time, you read a wonderful story that you never wanted to end. But end it did, and it left you with a craving for more. It's that same all-encompassing hunger for "more" that drives us to write or seek out fan fiction in the first place. And so as readers our immediate desire upon finishing a truly wonderful, original fan story to to locate and consume more of the same. Immediately. And one of the first things almost any reader asks a writer is "Is there a sequel?" As writers, a similar condition exists. The positive feedback we receive from writing spurs us on to write more—but the question remains: do we write a new story? Or do we simply continue the story we have begun?
The first question an author should ask herself is "Does the first story require a continuation?" Do the characters continue to evolve beyond the first work in a logical fashion? Or is it a forced evolution, and not the logical continuation of an arc begun by the first work? What this boils down to is whether the first story can actually support a sequel—or if a sequel will only dilute the impact of the first story. When you're sitting down to write, you have to take into account how you're going to continue to develop both the characters, and your universe. The second question is "Am I doing this simply because the first story was well received, and the readers want more of the same?" This is even more important—because if the author starts pandering, then it's a slippery slope. A story should be told because it demands to be told—not because the readers demand it be told. Or, unfortunately, because the author enjoyed the feedback and wants more of the same. As this column has stated time and time again, the quality of the work should come before the author's ego, and writing sequels simply to gander more positive feedback is one of the greatest crimes of authors. An author writes because the story demands it; not for the kudos. While praise can be a wonderful motivator, it should not be the sole motivator when it comes to new work. The plot and emotional arc needs to be solid and as tight as possible, and oftentimes it is the plot and the characters who suffer for the sake of an author's pride and greedy appetite for feedback.