There are two ways to read a sequel request:
- This story is not finished. Finish it!
- This story is too good to be over. I love the characters. Please write more.
(Well, and I suppose there’s some middle ground in there, too. Something about not all conflicts being resolved, loose ends to tie up, etc. I don’t include this because I think a good story leaves a little up to the imagination. Think of it as a snap shot of a person’s life; when is that snap shot ever complete?)
The stories that I write are, in my mind, complete. The arc that I wanted to tell has been told. The development that I wanted the characters to undergo has been undergone. We’ve made the journey from point A to point B. For this reason, I tend not to read sequel requests to be point 1 above.
As far as point 2 is concerned, it’s really flattering to get the request, but it’s also a pretty dangerous request. The story that I’d tell wouldn’t simply be an extended conclusion to the original. It would have to be a new story. Now we’re talking about managing expectations: you have one expectation in the sequel, I have another. It’s why so often, the originals are better than their sequels (Godfather and Terminator aside). We go into the first movie without any clue what to expect; we go into its sequel with a long list of preconceived notions.
This isn’t to say that I’m opposed to writing them. Just so you know, I’m currently working on one for Little Miss Communication (largely motivated by comments and requests). Rags to Reunions won’t get one (come on, you know what happens next…), but I am toying around with the idea of an Adele Blanchette spin-off.
The point is, I like the idea of sequels, too, and am very guilty of asking my favorite authors for them. There’s just a great deal of risk involved (for both reader and writer) in sequels. In the end, I have to be comfortable telling a story that feels strong and fresh on its own — not just more of them same.