Not Every Story Needs a Sequel

We authors here at BC are blessed by our readership.

Really! BC has a large, mostly active community of readers and writers, and comments on stories are quite common, which is a wonderful change from the majority of other fiction sites I've seen, even mainstream ones. The community here is supportive of new writers, positive in their outlook on most tales, and generally a great place to be a part of.

Now, having gotten THAT out of the way, on to the point of this blog.

With all our good elements as a community as a whole, we've developed one very exhausting and far from positive trait: clamoring for sequels.

"Great! When's the next part?"

"I hope this is the start of a series!"

"I can't wait to see what happens next!"

None of these seem like a terrible thing, right? But, let's look at it from the perspective of an author (or even prospective one,) and consider the ramifications. You write a short or complete story. You're done with it, you think. How do you answer these comments? Do you tell the truth? Do you say "maybe some day?" Do you ignore them? Or do you give in?

The first option, telling the truth, seems the most obvious, but from personal experience I can tell you doesn't always work. I've received I don't know HOW many PMs informing me of all the reasons why X or Y story needs more parts or another sequel or how something-something should happen because....

That isn't a positive experience for a writer with their own work, and is not the way to get more stories.

Likewise, saying "maybe some day" is just as perilous, since it draws the same responses as well as the occasional "so when is there gonna be more?" question. This is more understandable on stories designed as series or multi-parts that have never been finished, but on one-offs or completed multi-part stories it turns into a huge pain. If 'The Adventures of Petunia the Kumquat Warrior' are complete, why would you write a sequel or make up more events to continue the story? It SAYS 'complete!'

Ignoring the comments does no good either. I may not respond to every comment I get, but that's a far cry from ignoring them: I read every last one, and consider what was said for my next tale (which is why I prefer something a bit more meaty than 'great story!') So, ignoring the comments isn't gonna happen.

After all the issues the above responses can cause, though, giving in is probably the worst one.

Writing is hard work. It doesn't matter if it takes you five weeks to knock out a drabble or you can blast out a 2500 word chapter in 3 hours, it takes sweat, labor, and a lot of thought to tell a good tale. More than that, your heart needs to be in it, because a good, attentive reader can tell when it isn't. That, perhaps, is the greatest danger of giving in and writing another part or a sequel to something you had wanted to call finished: the threat that if your heart isn't in it, you diminish the value of the original work. Readers who begged, pushed, for a sequel now proclaim the story ruined, or berate you in comments. It can be awful.

No matter what answer you make, any kind of response to comments asking for sequels or more of a story that doesn't clearly indicate there will be more are stressful in the extreme, and I've known more than a few people who've considered posting stories here but changed their mind specifically because of their fear of the comments wanting more. It may be unintentional, but spamming comments asking for more more MORE can be detrimental to the author of a story, and even to the number of stories you get on the site.

This is a change that needs to happen with readers. That includes me: I've been guilty of asking this type of thing in the past myself, and I of all people should know better. Before asking for "more," consider what the author has already given you, and the clues in the story itself as to whether there will be more. If a story is clearly marked as completed, or has no numbers in its name, or nicely wraps up its plot points, then be willing to consider that a story is probably complete as-is, and let that be a deterrent to trying to cajole the author to do more. Instead, provide positive support on what is there, tell them what you liked (and even what you didn't!) and be enthusiastic about what has already been given.

Authors shouldn't feel that their work is only appreciated when it's an ongoing contribution. Every story, no matter how short or even incomplete, adds value to the site. The insistence that almost every tale have a sequel or more parts or a continuation of any kind only hampers authors from spreading their wings and giving you more great tales to enjoy, so instead of giving feedback in the form of a baby bird asking its mother to feed it, instead give a hug and a thank you. Not only would it be more effective at getting you what you want, it also makes the authors feel better too!

Melanie E.

Do you disagree with me? Have anything to add? Want to share a limerick? If so, leave it in the comments!

Click Like, Love or Thank to appropriately show your appreciation for this post: