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Prequel or Sequel?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by soulless, May 7, 2012.

  1. soulless

    soulless Troubadour

    I have ideas for a few stories set in my own fantasy world, but two are connected more than the rest through themes and characters but I've started wondering if they are in the right order. There's a good couple of thousand years between them but for some reason I've only just thought that maybe the chronological order isn't the best order to write them. The nearest similar thing I can think of would be the two Star Wars trilogies, they have the big ending which was followed by the prequels which set things up but we knew where most of it was going. Would it have been better or worse if the "Prequel" trilogy was made first and followed by the original films?
  2. Kelise

    Kelise Maester

    I think there's more room for you to set things up if you do the prequel first. Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series was written to set the mythology of his world up - he plans to now write an urban fantasy set in the same world, but much, much later. Then he's writing another series set in the future from that, which will be science fiction.

    With the prequel done first, you have less chance of writing yourself into a corner and have the chance to set things up that can 'explode', so to speak, in the later series.
  3. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I heard that the reason George Lucas started with episode 4 was because film making technology wasn't sufficiently advanced yet to tell the prequel stories. So - according to legend at least - that was more about available technology than storytelling. However, it enabled the revelation about Darth Vader being Luke's father to be a revelation to the (non-Dutch-speaking) audience, not just to Luke himself, so it did have storytelling benefits.

    I can understaqnd your concerns. When I was working on a now defunct series of four books involving one immortal character, I struggled to determine what order to write them in or present them in. And to be honest I'd dismissed them as not good stories before I ever came to a conclusion about what order they should be in.

    I guess what it comes down to it this: does the reader need to know the events in the earlier book to understand the events and character in the later book? If the answer is no, then the question is: which do you want to write the most?
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    The sequels and prequels to Star Wars weren't even written when the first movie was made, which was sold as a single movie. Also, despite the name, it was not yet thought to make Darth Vader Luke's father when the original movie came out. That's my understanding.
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    What would be most important here would be for each story to stand on its own, but with enough in the way of 'loose ends' to clear up subplots and details to the person who reads both books. Hence, the order is immaterial.
  6. ArielFingolfin

    ArielFingolfin Troubadour

    It depends. If your stories are plot driven I'd say go for sequel to answer the question 'what happens next', but if they're character driven I'd say go for prequel to explore the characters and where they came from.
  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    Consider reading some of the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust. While the series can be read in order of publication, the order of publication is not the chronological order of events in the series...ie, the storyline/events in the third book written, take place before events told in the first novel written occurred.

    And then there are related novels that come hundreds of years prior to the storyline of the Vlad Taltos series, still having some connection to events in the later books.

    This may assist you in your thought process. Sometimes novels are better examples to draw from than film, especially when the main concern is the written word.
  8. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

    I think this is a bit of a misnomer. Even if it is a prequel in fiction time, it's still a sequel in the reader's time because they've processed the story info in the order they read it (or in the case of Star Wars, watched it).

    So basically, it wouldn't be a prequel if you wrote it first. It only becomes a prequel when you have an idea to start the story earlier than what has already been published...but in reality, it's still a sequel.
  9. Just to be completely clear: A prequel is a story that is written later than another story, but takes place earlier than that story.

    The Phantom Menace is a prequel to A New Hope. A New Hope IS NOT a prequel to The Empire Strikes Back; it is the predecessor.
  10. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Good clarification, Benjamin.

    Also, soulless - I don't pretend to know what criteria _other_ people use to decide this sort of thing, but in my own mind there is really only one important thing to consider: Which "portion" of the story is most complete in your mind, right now?

    Write the one that you can write the best, even the most quickly, here and now. Maybe the storyline itself is simpler (as I believe helped the order that the Star Wars movie were made in) or you have a particular favorite character that shows up in one part. Maybe you came up with the later story first and you have more detail for it.

    The important thing is to pick one and start writing!

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