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Plot Value | S.D. Henke

Very few things are more daunting than taking a risk on a crazy idea, born of naked imagination, and investing in that idea for nearly three years knowing it might lead you nowhere. For me, this risk was worth it and it eventually lead to the publication of Story Bends, a little black sheep of a story I never imagined would see the light of day? But what about the even wilder idea that there could ever be a sequel.

Before last week, I hadn’t even considered the notion, let alone contemplate that I might actually have an answer. It wasn’t until some of my younger readers began asking “Is there going to be a sequel?” that I started grasping at the hem of the possibility for the continuance of the story.

The key to the answer rests in a humble analysis of the plot value and potential for what could lay in the future of the Bends. My motivations would need to go beyond the general delivery of what I know could lay beyond the boundaries of this story. I would need to know that there was a sincere commitment from my readers, my publisher, and a realistic plan of action for next steps. In short, the answer to my readers is a resounding, yes, but…

This takes more than a simple love of the story. I would need to know what it would mean to readers to have Edward’s saga to continue.

Fortunately, my reason for pause has nothing to do with the challenge. I’m always up for this kind of challenge, and I’m no stranger to writing sequels, having authored the IDEA33 Trilogy with enough staying power to push me through three full-length installments in less than five years. I am a visionary to a fault, and I know what it would take to invest in this kind of commitment. I was fortunate to have ‘readers in waiting’ in that case and a sincere following that propelled me to take the series further. For any other project to have this kind of trajectory I would need to ask and answer five questions for myself before I consider the implications of writing a sequel:

  1. Is there enough staying power in the original story to provide fuel for a destinctive enough bridge to a sequel?

In writing the first book, I half intended to follow up with a second and perhaps a third book, and although there are markers of serious potential plot value and set up for a companion to Story Bends, it would require a huge analysis of the first installment to draw out ideas for another go around.

  • The first book was something new and different. Is it realistic that the stakes could be higher? Could the integrity of the first book be sustained?

As I consider what the first book meant or could mean to the reader, I have to take a step back and think of the added value a sequel to this kind of artistic niche market book could bring.

  • Are the reader expectations great enough to warrant a sequel?

Honestly, if it isn’t in both mine and my reader’s best interests to make this happen then it probably shouldn’t happen. 

  • Are there beloved characters that could be sacrificed and what new characters could arise?

I would have to do some serious soul searching to consider the implications of character development. Who stays? Who goes? Who waits behind curtain number two?

  • Is the USP (unique selling point) sustainable enough? What made the first installment unique? Is there something just as engaging to offer?

With these questions in mind, my writer’s motor is reeling, but I’ll keep it in a holding pattern for what dreams may come and pay mind to what my readers want. Otherwise, there are always other stories around the Bends to tempt them!

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