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For every writer, much like fans, when they complete a work there is always the bittersweet moment of saying goodbye.  We’ve spent months and sometimes years building worlds, creating characters, and becoming intimately involved with them.  And as part of the writing process, we know their histories and their futures – sometimes better than they do themselves.  They have become our friends.

And then we think, “maybe I can write another story about X”.  It’s easier to write a sequel than to start something new.  You have a stock of characters, places and histories.  And for those of us in speculative fiction, we don’t have to reinvent the rules of science or magic or monsters.  And this is only complicated further when the story is a commercial success.  Fans will be looking forward to a new story about these characters, too.

Suddenly we are on a slippery slope.  Are we writing just because it’s easier and more comfortable?  Because we think we’ll make more money (for most professional writers, this can be an unfortunately important consideration).

I certainly can’t claim to know what has been going through George Lucas’ mind since the late 90’s.  But I do wonder if he has done more harm to his legacy than help.  I have a kinder view of the Star Wars prequel trilogy than most of my generation – who grew up watching the original series.  But there aren’t many who will argue that the newer entries live up to that gold standard.  Did he make money?  Certainly.  He even made money off the most recent Indiana ones movie (again failing to live up to its predecessors).

This is what writers need to be wary of.  When we write a sequel, are we writing “the Empire Strikes Back” or are we writing “the Phantom Menace?”


One Comment

  1. I agree. It also makes me wonder if it’s not the love for the characters and the stories that keeps them re-writing but the money itself. Lucas could keep making his bucks just by clicking a few buttons and re-re-releasing. As a writer, I understand getting close to my characters to the point where you can’t stop thinking about them when I’ve finally admitted I’ve finished the draft, but I don’t think I could keep them in my later stories. For one thing, I write literary, and that’s kind of hard to write a sequel to, but if I were to write a sci-fi or fantasy piece (which I have) I feel that it should be ’nuff said in the original piece.

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