Apr 17 2009

Advice to Novelists: No Prequels

When you’re querying your book, please do not mention that you’re thinking about a prequel.  Mentioning a prequel suggests that you don’t really know when the story starts.  It also suggests that you might leave out crucial information so that you can use it for the prequel.  Finally, I’d regard it as a warning flag that the chronology of the series will be confusing and hard to follow.  Ick.  If you’d like to discuss a prequel with your publisher, please do so after the first book has sold well.

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Advice to Novelists: No Prequels”

  1. ikarus619xon 17 Apr 2009 at 7:56 pm

    It’s always best to start from the beginning. For example, the Dragon Ball saga goes from Goku’s childhood to him being a grandpa. Fans who grew up with the series feel like they’ve lived DBZ. An experience like that is eternal and timeless. Star Trek also did this, but the characters changed. George Lucas missed this opportunity and look how Star Wars ended up.

  2. B. Macon 17 Apr 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Also, another problems about prequels is that they (unlike sequels) are usually tightly limited by what the readers already know. For example, in Star Wars, we already knew that Anakin was going to go bad, that the Chancellor would become the Emperor, that Yoda would survive, that Obi-Wan would survive, etc. In contrast, a sequel has a lot more room to develop the series.

  3. Lunajamniaon 17 Apr 2009 at 8:24 pm


  4. Tomon 18 Apr 2009 at 2:39 am

    This is taken to the extreme in the new TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Not only do most of the characters have invincible plot armour (with a few exceptions, making Ahsoka vs. Ventress fights interesting, and irritating me to no end when Jar Jar doesn’t die), but we have to try to accept Anakin as the hero, knowing full well that he’s eventually going to kill them all.

  5. Holliequon 18 Apr 2009 at 7:21 am

    In the above case, you kinda have to wonder whether they’d get more people complaining if they ignored the films entirely or stuck to them. Unless they killed off JarJar, in which case everyone would be happy.

  6. Tomon 18 Apr 2009 at 8:12 am

    They need to stick to the films, no question. If they didn’t it wouldn’t be considered ‘canon’, which, at this point, it is.

    But Goddammit, can’t they kill off Jar Jar? No! Instead, they devote entire episodes to him!

  7. B. Macon 18 Apr 2009 at 8:14 am

    I think they need to stick to the films because otherwise it’d be too confusing and possibly traumatizing for younger viewers. “Yoda, get up. You’re not really dead. Yoda!?!”

  8. Tomon 18 Apr 2009 at 10:46 am

    Exactly. Although I wouldn’t mind ‘Jar Jar, don’t get up. You’re not really alive. Jar Jar!?!’

  9. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Apr 2009 at 4:29 pm

    “Irritating me to no end when Jar Jar doesn’t die”.

    Watch this.


    At some point there is a very funny segment about Jar Jar and Darth Vader.

  10. JVKJRon 30 Nov 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve written a couple of prequel-esque short stories for my story. I really don’t think I could actually put them in anywhere (since they mostly take place about one thousand years prior), but at the same time I like to flesh out the past and history of my story, and if I have a bout of writer’s block (though I know what I’m doing with my book, and the next couple, sometimes I have a hard time putting it into words).

  11. JVKJRon 04 Dec 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Really, though, are short stories set in the past an issue? ‘Cause if they are, I’ve written multiple prequels.

  12. B. McKenzieon 04 Dec 2012 at 3:46 pm

    “Really, though, are short stories set in the past an issue? ‘Cause if they are, I’ve written multiple prequels.” When you’re pitching a work, I wouldn’t recommend mentioning any prequels. I’d recommend crossing that bridge when you get to it.

  13. JVKJRon 04 Dec 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be pitching those short stories. Nobody would really care about what happened a thousand years ago before knowing what’s going on currently. It wouldn’t even be necessary to read the short stories to understand what’s going on.
    See, my book would pretty much explain it in a paragraph or two, so what the short stories are for is to tell it from the point of view of the ones who were there all those years ago. They bring a deeper understanding that can’t be described by someone giving a tidbit of a history lesson.

  14. B. McKenzieon 04 Dec 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I think that bodes well. As long as the original work can stand on its own and you’re not pitching it with the prequel(s), there’s no way the prequel could affect the publishability of the original.

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