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Should Your Story Have a Sequel?

Today’s writing-related Challenge of the Week, as posted on Innovative Editing’s Facebook page, focuses on the future – your story’s future, to be precise.

Should it have a sequel? Or should it be a stand-alone book?

If that sounds like a really non-challenging challenge, especially for a writing week devoted to something as important as “falling action,” then maybe you’ve already figured your manuscript out.

It could be that you’re a plotter who’s mapped out everything already, in which case there’s no point in wondering what happens after “the end.” Because, well, it’s the end.

There’s also the chance that you’re one of those writers who is utterly opposed to the idea of a sequel, either for this particular manuscript or for books in general. Though, as fellow author Lia Mack and I can both attest, your opposition doesn’t always matter.

There might have to be a sequel regardless.

Essentially, unless you’re that never-failing plotter type, it’s probably not a bad idea to consider whether your current manuscript is destined to be Book 1 in a series. And believe it or not, whenever you’re working on writing your falling action scene is a great time to start.

To really understand why, consider Tuesday’s writing Definition of the Week, which explained how:

Falling action is a story’s route to total resolution. At this point in the plot line, the major drama has already happened. So has the major action. And the major action has already been tackled and probably conquered as well.

Now it’s just a matter of tidying everything up before the ending takes place…

Just because the big battle has been fought or the big obstacle has been overcome doesn’t mean there’s not some mess left to be cleaned up or questions left to be answered. So the falling action is where those extras are addressed – if not taken care of altogether – in order to funnel neatly into the conclusion, or ending.

If your manuscript really, truly and completely is meant to be forever by itself, then there’s no story future to contemplate, of course. So yes, you make everything as neat and orderly as you please, write the ending, and then celebrate the completion of your first draft.

But if you think your creative idea has some more life to it, then ask yourself what plot points or character details can actually stay unresolved for the time being. What unanswered questions might push readers to start searching for Book #2?

It could be something utterly simple or silly, such as whether a romance's newly united love interests will be taking the apartment next to her mother’s place or their dream house that’s a little out of their price range.

Then again, it could be something seriously scary, such as whether a kidnapped friend is going to be rescued or not.

Or it could be somewhere in the middle, like what’s going to happen to a beloved sibling who’s struggling with a bout of depression.

Whatever the detail, you’ll still want to touch on it in the falling action section of your manuscript. In fact, you’ll want to touch on it heavily enough to leave an impact on readers. Make sure to tease the to-be-unresolved aspect at least a little, lingering on it for one extra sentence here or flat-out highlighting it there.

It doesn’t have to be the absolute focal point of the falling action. All a writer needs to do is make it prominent enough to bug audiences a wee bit after they close the story.

If that sounds easier said than done when your story is so unique or complex, then give Innovative Editing a call at 717-609-5661 or email to set up a brainstorming session – where you can ask all the falling action-related questions you want and get the sequel-related advice you need.


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