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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-02-21 05:49
Subject: [process] Sequel-itis, or the part 2 blues...
Security: Public
Tags:books, calamity, child, currents, friends, green, mainspring, movies, process, sunspin, writing
Yesterday afternoon, [info]the_child's basketball team lost their first round playoff game. It was heart-breakingly close, a very good game, but in the end, the other team pulled it out to beat them by three points. After dinner with friends, we stayed up late (and tired!) and watched Kung Fu Panda 2imdb ], which we'd rented over the weekend and is due back Real Soon Now. Meanwhile, I'm thinking ahead to the second book of Sunspin, Their Currents Turn Awry.

All of these things are essential part two of something else. The playoffs were a coda to her season. Kung Fu Panda 2 follows on the success of the first movie. Currents, well, we shall see.

It's hard to do something twice. I learned this writing both of the Mainspring and Green trilogies. The demands of the sequel/part 2 are very different. The challenge for the creator is how to maintain and build on whatever magic the original had, while still doing something new and interesting. So I worry a bit about Their Currents Turn Awry and the final two books in Sunspin. Once a reader has encountered Calamity of So Long a Life, their expectations are set. They have a view of the world that I have to both satisfy and expand upon.

Luckily for me, while very, very few movie sequels live up to their original (off the top of my head, the Toy Storyimdb ] cycle is the only movie series that truly pulled this off), there are plenty of sfnal and fantasy examples of successful series and trilogies. Writing is not the playoffs, and we're not worried about box office take. Not exactly, at any rate.

Still, there's nothing like a story the first time out of the wrapper, when you're experiencing it like never before. How to keep that magic going...?

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User: jackwilliambell
Date: 2012-02-21 15:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wouldn't you agree that 'The Empire Strikes Back' following 'A New Hope' is one case in films where the sequel is actually better than the first?

Of course I always figured that was because it was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, as opposed to Lucas writing the other two. (Yes, Lucas cowrote 'Revenge of the Jedi' with Kasdan, but I would argue that it too is better than 'A New Hope' if not as good as 'Empire'.)
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Jay Lake: graffiti-smiling
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-02-21 15:17 (UTC)
Mmm, yes, you're probably right about that. Though the 'capture the magic' problem definitely applies there. When I first saw Star Wars in 1977 or so, it was like nothing I'd ever seen. The Empire Strikes Back was in a sense Star Wars on ice, and it was doing something I'd seen before.

Yes, I am a bundle of contradictions.
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scarlettina: Movie tix
User: scarlettina
Date: 2012-02-21 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Movie tix
I've always been of the opinion that "Aliens" is better than "Alien," with more emotional depth and, generally speaking, more interesting characters.

I also think that that "Terminator 2" is a better film than "Terminator," though maybe that's just because Linda Hamilton is so bad ass that she makes bad ass-itude look like wimpitude. No, now that I think about it, I think T2 gives the audience more to invest in than T1 did--more interesting secondary characters, higher stakes, and it turns the first film's villain into a weirdly sympathetic hero.
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User: jackwilliambell
Date: 2012-02-21 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree about Aliens, but conditionally. Both Alien and Aliens are good, even great, films; but they are actually very different structurally and difficult to compare.

I am probably the only person in the world who likes T3 the best of all the Terminator movies. I think it tells a deeper story than the other ones and isn't afraid to end with the hero reluctantly accepting his mantle; along with all the awfulness that implies for the rest of the world. Most people speak of it ending on a sour note, I think that ending is exactly what the entire trilogy is about in terms of a hero's journey.
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User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-02-21 16:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
How to keep that magic going? Go someplace new and explore it. Meet new people. Get caught up in their lives, have their problems become your problems. This formula has worked in series basically forever. A trilogy needs to work as a single story spanning over three volumes, but it also needs to work as a collection of shorter stories (whether they are one volume each or smaller). The shorter stories are responsible for the feeling of freshness and magic, as well as for advancing the plot along the larger arc without being too obvious or heavy-handed about it. It's very simple in theory, and hard only in practice.
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