When I say sequel, I’m not referring to a second book in a series, but instead a very important type of scene that every novel has or should contain. In real life, when something happens to us, especially something particularly upsetting or tragic, we need time to process it, to react–this is exactly what a sequel is. Sequels are extremely important because they twist and move the story in a different direction based on a character’s reactions.
As I blogged previously, every scene must contain certain elements. Likewise, a sequel needs to contain specific elements in order to effectively communicate the character’s reaction. These elements include: emotion, thought, decision, and action.
Typically, the emotion and thought portion of the sequel happen simultaneously. A dramatic scene just ended, and now the character is starting to react. They’re processing the earlier events and thinking about what they must now do to get out of the pain, the situation, the problem, or fix things, etc.
What drives the sequel is the character’s decision. Therefore, the character’s decision should be paramount. Every time the character makes a decides what to do, it should move the plot. They are responsible for shifting the story line. Because of the amount of pressure and stress the character may be feeling over making the decision, this portion of the sequel can even give the writer a fabulous opportunity to add tension and suspense.
Lastly, the action part of the sequel can occur immediately after the decision or several scenes later. The action over the decision will move your story, maybe even cause the plot to twist and turn. In a character driven story, the character’s decision and subsequent action, usually create an internal transformation. This is how the writer portrays who the character really is, how they are changing, or who they’re becoming as the story events unfold and they react to the dramatic events in their life. Their decisions and action will shape the person they become.
Sequels are extremely important, not only for the reason mentioned above, but also because (especially if it’s an extremely fast-paced novel) they give the reader a breather from the action. Even if the sequel is brief, this “breather” is important.