Sequels. I feel I am qualified to comment on this subject, not because I am a literary expert, but because I have watched my share of kids’ cartoons. Prehistoric animals, Shakespearean lions, fairy-tale creatures* – I’ve seen it all. Okay, maybe not all: after the second and third sequels, my kids usually ask me to leave the room, as I tend to get vocal in my disapproval:
“What do you mean the sloth is running a daycare?”
“I don’t care if that’s what she just said; no self-absorbed lion with visions of world domination trains a cub to be his replacement.”
“How on earth do a donkey and a dragon mate?”
Hey if I’m going to waste an hour and a half of my life, I should be able to enjoy myself – or at the very least understand what I am watching. This brings up a good point, though: what merits a sequel? Popularity? Money? Certainly, as is proven by the aforementioned films. How about not wanting to let go, though?
I’m not in the position to say popularity or money are my driving forces, nor do I ever hope to be, but there is part of me that doesn’t want to let go of the character I’ve created, even after the story is complete. And why should I? That person has been a part of me for months, even years. We’ve grown accustomed to each other; they are my comfort, my solace, my BFF (not entirely, but for the purposes of this blog, we’ll just say they are). For my own satisfaction, I want their story to continue.
There’s only one problem with that: like most of the previously ridiculed films, if there is no character development, there is no sequel. Though the characters and stories are products of our imagination, they need to grow and experience life much like we do. If we are holding onto them for emotional reasons, if we are trying to come up with situations to put them in, rather than letting their development dictate their lives, then we’re doing ourselves, our characters and our readers a disservice.
Besides, if the story ends with …and they lived happily ever after, what else is there to write?
Ah well, I guess I will just have to scratch those sequels I’ve been planning. It feels like I am conceding a fight while I still have fight in me, but the truth is, like all things in life, I just have to enjoy the time I have with the characters I’ve developed and let go when the last word is written.
*Names of the films have been omitted to protect the guilty from experiencing further shame.