As writer’s we often create characters and mold them according to the convenience of the story plot — it’s an exciting, godlike and powerful feeling to produce “someone” who comes to life through words and who the readers (ideally) care about. By the time we write The End our task is complete. We send our characters out into the world to live on their own, to inspire peoples’ imaginations, and to remain who they are throughout perpetuity.
Unless we decide to revive those characters in another book.
Why, why, why would we do that? They’ve done their time, did their job and now they deserve to rest. …but maybe not. Sometimes our characters stay with us just begging to move on.
Maybe we write a spin-off and our once favorite NAGGING characters appear in the storyline again. When I wrote His Lucky Charm I literally fell in love with a secondary character. Tom Hughes suffered tragic heartbreak in his past and he was just the kind of man to council his cousin and her heartthrob about the need to grab onto each other while you can, and his cousin and her heartthrob did get married. I wanted Tom to have his own HEA (Happy Ever After) ending and I wrote Within the Law. This was pretty easy. While I did create Tom’s character and an important chunk of his history, it wasn’t until I wrote Within the Law that I really concentrated on developing him fully. And while the lovers of His lucky Charm did make appearances all I had to do was put a bit of time into their storyline. Easy peasy.
Another spin-off I wrote stemmed from Final Sin where I created Jake and Julie, and Julie’s sidekick Matt. In the spin off book, Hyphema, I was able to really develop Matt’s character and introduce his wife who had only been mentioned in Final Sin. The focus was entirely on Matt and Sudah in the spin-off book.
Then I wrote Karma Visited about Annie who is able to astral travel in her sleep to people in need and when she needs help who will be there for her? She meets Dave and it’s a tense story. As an author I liked it and readers have told me that they liked it as well. I wanted more of Annie and Dave’s story so I wrote a sequel. A sequel is literally a continuation of a story line and often including the same main characters. A sequel is also in the future in respect to the first book so your characters have to show growth and still remain the same people we fell in love with. If they had an HEA in the first book though we also need to introduce new conflicts or the sequel will effectively be just one long epilogue. I admit it was very difficult, I kept starting and then scrapping everything I had written. It was frustrating.
I believed I had a terrific story in my head, one that presented some major conflicts and great action, but how was I going to tell it? Finally I decided to interview each of my characters, separately, and I asked some pointed questions. What had transpired since Karma Visited? Where had they hoped to be by this point in their lives? What were their biggest fears? And there were many more questions, some much too personal to tell everyone else. I got a clear picture of who Annie and Dave were in the year after Karma Visited ended. The sequel did get written and I am pleased to announce that Annie’s Karma will be available later this month.
Writers have a responsibility to create real people (aka characters) who have had lives before the first pages of our books and will live long after the words The End are typed.