It is something I have found in the discussions I have had with the readers of my stories. Something that took me by surprise, though it shouldn’t have.
That being that my readers after they have read a story fully, from beginning to end — not skimming but really internalizing it, they feel an ownership of the characters. Not in a copyright or entitled sort of way, but in that they understand the characters, their motivations, and feel as if they can imagine what they would or wouldn’t do — what they would or wouldn’t want.
What happens next?
What happened next?
I once thought that was something that it was up to me to decide, but when I speak to fans of one tale or another, I find they have already decided. What winds blew the characters, and where they landed after the gust. Whether the rivals linked up again or separated. Whether there was more fire and lust, or instead, violence and pain.
Not just in a surface-level expectation, like “I bet they fought again”. But in a very specific, here is what I imagine happened. The readers almost writing their own sequel, one that in their mind is the best and only way the characters could have moved on from their battle.
Not clearly, not every reader does this, but at least from my discussions it seems not only common, but par for the course.
So, due to the above, I have two questions. One to writers and one to readers — and as a caveat, I take Who is This? out of the equation, given its controversy.
- First to authors, would writing a sequel that not only subverts but goes against the expectations of the fans of the original story give you pause?
- For readers, if the author of one of your favorite stories wrote a sequel that was not what you imagined make you like the story less?
Before answering, clearly there is an issue of character motivations and traits, and whether the actions in the characters in the sequel flow inexorably from the two.
But for these questions, assume the actions of the characters in the sequel line up with their personalities and motivations, they were just led to a different place than the reader expected.