I was in fifth grade when I watched High School Musical for the first time. My neighbor, who was really into plays and musicals at the time, recorded it and brought it over one day. Personally, I thought all Disney Channel movies were a little corny, and this one was no different. I could acknowledge the talent involved but the story was so-so. Still, I told him that I liked it because I knew it would make him happy.
When High School Musical 2 came out, a friend from school taped it and invited me over to watch it at her house. She was in love with Zac Efron, just like all the other girls in my class, so she was incredibly invested and maybe a little obsessed. I just couldn’t take the movie seriously. It was even cornier than the first one. I snorted and chuckled and rolled my eyes a lot, and she gave me dirty looks every time. At the end, she mourned the fact that she would have to wait so long for the third one and she went on and on about how much she wanted to be Ashley Tisdale when she grew up and wasn’t Zac Efron perfect? “It wasn’t that great,” I told her to which she gasped and declared that we weren’t friends anymore. Well, not really, but she was stunned and disappointed.
I just didn’t get what the hype was all about. I mean, sure, the actors were cute and yeah, it was something that hadn’t been attempted by Disney Channel before. But to me people on the big screen weren’t real people. I was never going to meet them. So why pine after them? It didn’t make any sense to me. I loved the Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof. This musical seemed like it was trying a little too hard to be modern and cool.
Needless to say, I didn’t watch the third one. By the time it came out, I wasn’t afraid to tell people what I thought of the franchise. In fact, I took pride in the fact that I was one of the few kids in my grade who were outspoken about their indifference to the series. And ever since then, I’ve gone against the flow when it comes to popular books, movies, and TV shows. I came to the conclusion that hype about any one thing was more than likely just noise. So a bunch of people like this thing. Okay, that doesn’t mean I’ll like it or that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. It just means that a lot of people like it.
That’s kind of how I feel about writing sequels. Nowadays it feels like every author has written a series or is in the middle of writing a series or has only ever written books for one series. As a reader, I’ve encountered series that completely blew me away. The Graceling Series, The Lunar Chronicles, the Chaos Walking Trilogy, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and The Heroes of Olympus Series to name a few. These authors did amazing jobs moving their characters and their villains through plot after plot after plot until they reached their ultimate goal and had their final showdown. Then there was that one trilogy that I absolutely loved where the author finished the story off perfectly. The bad guy was gone, the sought-after artifacts were collected, the love triangle was resolved, the conflict was over…and then she decided to write another three books.
The fans were ecstatic. They wanted more and she was giving them more, so why not be happy? But I was skeptical. The ending was so perfect. How could she justify continuing the story? Who would the bad guy be now? What would be the new goal these characters would need to reach? Still, I gave the fourth book a try. While there were parts about it that I liked (the dialogue and the return of certain beloved characters) I was grief stricken. She was putting her characters through more hardship. It was like she just couldn’t let them be happy! The new villain was someone that had been mentioned once in passing in the previous book. It seemed random, not very well thought out at all. So I chose not to read the other two books. And I decided I wasn’t going to write a sequel to any of my stories unless I had the perfect plot.
I’m sure that author had her reasons for continuing that series even after she’d told her fans that she was only going to write three books. And they were her stories so she had every right to keep writing. I’m not condemning her for her choice because it was her choice. I just hate that that one book turned me off to the entire series.
I’ve written a book and then moved onto another project, only to realize that I really missed those other characters. The temptation to throw a plot together just for the sake of being in that world with those particular characters again is a strong one! But I don’t ever want to disappoint my readers the way that fourth book in that one series disappointed me. So even though a few people have expressed an interest in seeing my stories turned into series, I’m holding off on writing sequels. I’ll admit it; I’ve brainstormed some ideas, created some outlines, and written a few chapters for a sequel to all three of my currently published books. But I’m not about to share that with my fans, not until those stories are completed and my beta readers have told me they’re as good as the first books.
I’ve heard that publishing a book every year until a series is done will garner more fans and do wonders for book sales. While that does sound great to me, I’m going to take my time with these ideas of mine. I figure, if people love my books enough, they’ll be excited about the sequel even if it comes out two or three years from now. What my fans think means more to me than sales. If/when I finish a sequel, I will let everyone know. Trust me! But in the mean time, I’m just going to keep writing as inspiration strikes. I hope my fans can be patient with me and be satisfied with the books I publish in the mean time.