At the heart of every sequel*
is the narrating character’s reaction to the preceding scene’s disaster. This is where the author gets the opportunity to
dig around inside his character’s emotional and mental processes and find out
what he’s really made of. The scene is
about external action; the sequel is
about internal reaction. The sequel
will sometimes be entirely confined to the POV character’s mind; other times, it will be dramatized through action or dialogue.
Don’t Be Afraid of Boring Readers
Options for Sequel Reactions
You can simply tell readers how your character feels. This isn’t always going to be a good choice, since you’ll usually get more bang for your buck by showing readers what’s happening. But sometimes a simple summary will allow you to return to the action quicker.
Most reactions will contain at least some aspect of this option, since your character’s inner landscape is most important at this point.
You can effectively show a character’s reaction via his external actions. This can sometimes be used by itself if the dramatization is strong enough on its own to convey the character’s inner reaction. But it is often especially effective when used in conjunction with description or internal narrative. For example, your character’s fearful reaction might be dramatized through his chewing his fingernails or shivering uncontrollably.
You can also use the general tone of your story, as you describe other elements (such as setting, weather, other characters’ actions, etc.) to convey your character’s inner landscape. Your choice of words will influence your readers’ perception of events and help them make assumptions about your character’s internal reactions.
Questions to Ask About Your Sequel Reactions
1. Does the character’s reaction directly correlate to the preceding disaster?
2. Does the character’s reaction make sense in context with the preceding disaster?
3. Is the character’s reaction logical for his personality?
4. Have you taken the appropriate amount of time to portray the reaction (whether it’s a sentence or several chapters)?
5. Have you illustrated the reaction as powerfully as possible, through narrative, description, action, and/or dialogue?
6. Have you made the situation clear without unnecessarily rehashing information the reader is already familiar with?
Sequel Reactions in Action
Tell me your opinion: What emotion is your character reacting with in your latest sequel?
Related Posts: Are You Skimming Your Story’s Potential?
Are You Giving Readers the Tools to Understand Your Story?
Why Narrative Isn’t a Bad Thing
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Story by K.M. Weiland