Coldplay, Ridley Scott, And F$#@ing Unnecessary Sequels, Tie-Ins And Prequels
SPOILER ALERT! If you’ve not seen Prometheus yet (don’t bother, by the way), and don’t want to know what happens, click over to Youtube or something.
Ridley Scott, you disappoint me. Coldplay, I want to slap each one of you with a herring. Writers who insist upon writing sequels, you all need to take a good hard look at yourselves.
Mr Scott, I just watched Prometheus. I want my two hours back. The effects were great. It was a delight to see Ms Theron playing a bitch in that lovely suit, but the plot was awful. I get that the robot had an agenda, but c’mon! Isn’t that just a little bit cliched by now? Sure, the ship’s captain and at least two other crew-mates decided to kamikaze into the engineers’ ship because that was the only way to stop them destroying Earth, but really? Just like that? The good doctor (who by the way, would no-way be able to jump about like that after having her abdominal muscles sliced open for an emergency C-section) gets weepy for 15 seconds and so the captain decides, “yeah, fuck it. I’ll kill myself, my crew, destroy my ship and probably maroon any survivors on this hostile planet.” Just because a woman he’s already assessed as being bonkers, tells him about a threat he hasn’t seen yet? That’s just crap. A dude that dumb does NOT have the brains to become a ship’s captain.
Alien was brilliant. The next three films weren’t, but they were enjoyable. Prometheus just didn’t need to be made. Seriously. It sucked as a sequel the same way Starship Troopers Two sucked, only worse. You should have just left the franchise alone. If the rumours are true and you’re re-visiting Blade Runner, you’re in big trouble, buster.
Coldplay, your turn. Lovers In Japan / Reign Of Love is a complete balls up, and pisses me off. The first half – Lovers In Japan is a beaut song. Groovy, catchy and a good solid Coldplay classic. Then you go and fuck things up by tagging Reign Of Love onto the end so the completely different tune – one I don’t like at all – is stuck on the end and I’m either forced to listen to it, or I have to hit the button on my player to skip the rest of the track. Or, I could just not include it in my playlist. For fuck’s sake guys, you didn’t need to do that. If you really liked Reign Of Love so much that you think everyone should be forced to listen to it over and over, sell it to a fucking soap company and then it’ll be on ads all the the time and we’ll have no escape from it. You didn’t need to join it to another song more people like.
Writers, listen up. Unless you have a story already mapped out that needs three books to tell, don’t write that sequel. Sure you may have written a hit book that’s great as a stand-alone, and you have fans asking for more. Sure you think it’ll be easy because you’ve already thought of the characters and have them fresh in your head. But I mean it guys. Don’t. Just don’t. Ever heard “I like their old stuff better than their new stuff”? Ever heard “The first book was great but I didn’t read the rest in the series”? You’ve probably even said these phrases yourselves. So, unless you’ve really, really got seventy-five chapters or so plotted out that can be divided into three solid books with beginnings and endings, step away from your keyboard.
Right now, I’m hooked on one series – the Pandora English series by Tara Moss. I’ve read the first three, and I know Moss is writing at least one more. I’m confident she knows what she’s doing and had these storylines mapped out before finishing the first book. That’s something many writers don’t do, and they should. Not doing so can be a real career-killer.
Recently, I’ve also read two YA stand-alone novels by another Aussie writer, Nansi Kunze. They could have been serialized if Kunze wanted to, but she didn’t. She has the talent to make the sequels as good as the debut books, but I’m actually relieved to see she didn’t do it. Part of the joy of reading every new work she releases is that it’s new and fresh and completely different from her previous work. I’m actually more eagerly anticipating Kunze’s next release than I am Moss’, even though they’re both bloody rippers (that’s a good thing to you non-Aussies out there.)
That’s another thing writers need to think about. One of the things your fans like, even though they might not put into words, is reading about and then mentally exploring the worlds you create. Every new world you give them is more than a mere 100,000 or so words; it’s a life-time of imagination for them and more adventures than you could ever dream of because they – the readers – are thinking them, spurred on by the little seed you plant in their brains when they read your book.
Not giving them new worlds to explore and new characters to dream about, is actually depriving your readers of your talent. All that sweat over getting every word right and every plot-hole covered and the message in your story so clear it can’t be misunderstood – not wasted, but not always as big a deal to the reader as to you. As soon as they’ve read your story, they’ll interpret it differently to you anyway and will walk away from the book thinking “I wonder what would have happened in that place with this character” and so on. In their minds, the story doesn’t end with the last line you wrote.
You want to give more to your readers? Don’t give them a series. Give them a new world in your next book. Your brain is a muscle, girls and boys. If you don’t use it, it gets weak and flabby and can’t perform. If you don’t come up with new worlds and new stories instead of just extensions of the same old one, that same old one is gonna jump the shark. When that happens, nobody will want to read your next work, just like I don’t want to watch another Ridley Scott movie ever, or buy another Coldplay album.
PS: No, I’m not going to give examples of literary works that have disappointed me. A while ago I decided not to write bad reviews of books – only good ones. If I read a book that I don’t rate four or five stars, I just don’t review it.