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Sequels

I have nothing to report from my novels in progress, so for my writing post today, I figured I'd just ramble about a tangentially-related topic: sequels.

I spent the last week wrangling my kids for the most part and whenever Steph and I went to Netflix for a break, I was always amazed by the number of kids's movies that have sequels.  This isn't a new phenomenon by any means.  When I was a teenager working at Hollywood Video, I'm sure I had plenty of rants about the shamelessness of these cash-grabs - Bambi II, The Land Before Time IX, etc.

But then I think about it more and I'm not sure how disgusted I really want to be.  I mean, yeah, they're definitely cash-grabs - but that doesn't inherently mean there can't be some quality thought put into them.

Part of it is that, now that I have kids, I'm happy to have the sequels since it means we have more options.  You like Kung Fu Panda?  Great, because there's three movies and a TV show.  That means I don't have to watch the same one over and over.

The more significant reason my attitude is shifting, though, is that I've come to appreciate the challenge of a sequel.  I respect the hard work and brainstorming that goes into crafting a story, especially when there's constraints like time and a bad premise to work with.  Cash-grab be damned.  I don't care why you're writing your story - I just admire that you do.

Of course, they're not all winners.  Some sequels are much lamer than others.  You can totally see how little time and effort they were able to put into the script.  "Shit, the villain died in the original. How do we get this going... hmm, a wizard did it?  Sure, a wizard did it.  Done!"

Most sequels are better than that.  It's becoming more fun for me as I get older to brainstorm how I would structure a sequel and then to see how the actual screenwriter did it.  The end product may still not be all that great, but most are respectable. The Kung Fu Panda series, for example.  The movies definitely get weaker as they go on, but the story structure in parts 2 and 3 is very admirable.

I used to say that I was going to set a rule for myself never to write sequels to my books.  While I generally still plan to hold true to that, I've decided not to be too strict about it.  Sometimes it's just fun to brainstorm, and if I have enough fun thinking about it, I'll probably enjoy writing it.  I'm sure that's not the story behind most Hollywood productions, but I like to think most screenwriters who've been contracted by Disney are jazzed to take on the challenge.