Tartra has me thinking independence

5 months ago | mathtans (Member)

So, I have a few remarks, then a more general question. In general though, this post is a thanks to Tartra for her latest review of my serial. My site's upper limit for page views in a day has been 113 since late June 2016 (Daylight Savings shenanigans notwithstanding), so I was baffled Sunday afternoon when I happened to look and see a count of over 130. Like, why is May 7th a thing? The fact that Tartra had posted a review on May 6th probably has everything to do with that. So my thanks there. Since this will be the last month of T&T, it's a nice note to go out on.

A few remarks more specifically for Tartra and/or anyone who's read the review...
-Heh, I'm not sure about having one of the most enduring works, I think that's an illusion generated by my tendency to over post about it. But what do I know.
-Carrie's a tsundere? Damn it, she really kind of is. That was accidental, when she sparked to life in 2000 I didn't even know what one was. Oh well?
-Word Choice. Holy Cats. This is literally something I never really thought about, yet it's blindingly obvious in retrospect. Certain people would say "circumvent it" while others would say "work around it" or "not use that" and I never thought very much about those choices. Major face palm moment. Kinda fixable though, the main question being whether that's something worth going back to fix? (Thoughts? Has anyone else ever done that sort of overhaul to their serial?)
-I am hyper organized. It's just a thing. (The funny corollary is, even though the characters are a slave to the global plot, the plot is also kind of a slave to the characters given their reactions can send that plot in new directions locally.)

Now for the question... has anyone ever run a story sequel, using a few crossover characters, and had success with it? Independent of their original story or otherwise? (Or seen it done?) I ask because the more I fiddle with how/whether to do a "Book 5", the more I think it will only work if I call it something else entirely, separating it from T&T. Opinions welcome. Thanks for reading my ramblings here.

Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca

Read responses...

Page: 12

Responses

  1. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    I've done as many sequels as original works thus far, and it seems to work fine for me.

    What costs readers is changing stories entirely. But I knew that when I did it. Oh well.

    Author of Price.
  2. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @TanaNari - But with the readers you lose, won't the new readers make up for it?

    @mathtans - I'm gonna stick with 'enduring', if only because there's been a few times where you mentioned you weren't sure if you wanted to keep writing it, then - BAM. New chapter. :D I think this one of those stories that's going to make it to the end out of pure passion or pure I'm-not-going-to-let-you-sleep-until-you-write-me (blink twice if your serial's holding you hostage).

    Also - y'know. You've been going for years! You started with Carrie in 2000?! Geeeeeeez. Way to break our bell curve!

    And based on the few people around here who've made the transition from serial-only to serial-and-book, apparently the formar editing process involves gutting it anyway. If you do decide to have a major overhaul, you'll just be getting a leg up on that. :) Or if you're thinking about getting nifty with Book 5 in terms of separating it, that could be a quasi-trial run for the new ideas.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  3. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @TanaNari- Doesn't seem like it. I was growing at a steady rate- not amazing, but respectable. I lost almost half my readers when I went on to story 2. I was almost back to where I started when that one ended and I went to the third, and that cost me roughly 20%- leaving me still behind where I ended my first one. The third was short, so I did its sequel and kept recovering.

    Then I went back for the sequels of the first couple books. I've plateaued. I'm not really losing, but I'm also not really gaining.

    Apparently, people like familiarity and would rather see a television series than a movie.

    Author of Price.
  4. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @TanaNari - Huh. Well, that's weird. Your serial's set up so it's like a bunch of different stories within the same world, right? So you have that same sense of familiarity across the setting, right? On the same site? Or is it a completely separate every time?

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  5. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Same setting, same site. Different characters. And that seems to be what's costing me. Someone likes one set of characters, but not another... and, well, they leave for a book. And don't usually come back.

    Author of Price.
  6. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Well, if they're sticking around for the full story and then leaving, maybe you can do a slower transition between the books - if that's possible. Just so people get eased into the next one a bit better. Or maybe it's just a promotional problem, and word needs to get further out about the sequels whenever you go back to the earlier characters.

    You're cross-advertising among your books though, right? On a blog, in the comments, somewhere?

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  7. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    I don't know how much I can do about transitions. I do the book. Take it to the logical conclusion that said novel reaches- because, well, that's how books tend to work. Then take a few days off for a break and to change gears, and on to the next book.

    I don't know what I could possibly do to inform people where the story's going. It really is just that my main characters are so different from one another that a lot of people who are there for one characters simply don't like the next.

    Or, at least, I don't know what else it might be.

    Author of Price.
  8. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Hmm. Yeah, I'd be doing something a bit different in terms of a "Sequel", in that I'd need to keep the main character with the temporal abilities, and her girlfriend, but not much else. New town, new secondary characters, new antagonist. No idea how much that counts as "changing stories entirely". I'd also need to do callbacks because there is relevant history there.

    A big part of the issue I'm finding is the big left turn my whole narrative takes in Part 36. I think only one of my reviewers made it that far. For all I know, the people ranking me would be turned off by the new direction, and rank lower, while people who might enjoy the new direction have no chance of reading that far, because I'm even slower off the starting block than Steins;Gate. The "Book 3" relaunch (at Part 48) seemingly did nothing for me. Hence the thoughts of a complete separation, with a new listing. (Though the fact that the initial 96 parts have their problems is also a contributing factor.)

    It's good to know sequels in the same universe seem to fare okay though. I don't know that I have any useful advice on pulling people back, aside from cameos or something. Hell, I should count my blessings in that a couple people track both my math story and my time travel one.

    @Tartra: I suppose if we're pulling in the last 17 years, you have a case, though it wasn't being actively worked on for a bunch of that time. (If anyone's curious how T&T was shelved as a complete work in 2009, rose from the ashes in 2012, was re-edited, extended in 2015, and subsequently flopped, leading to a lot of waffling the past two years, that was chronicled in my latest side commentary. Just skip the stuff at the top and read from "Fight the Future": https://mathtans.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/ttc-commentary-27/ )

    The more I see about books, the more I think I'm not cut out for that. But I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, in that I don't take on things I have no intention of seeing through. Which probably explains some of the stubborn resolve to keep posting weekly with serials, frankly. As to the bell curve, I already knew I was an outlier. ^.^

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  9. unice5656 (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    It's super-duper common for sequels to follow different characters in the same world when it comes to fantasy-romance stories (everybody has to have a happy ending). I've also seen spin-offs that worked quite well.

    If you're actually keeping the same MC, I don't see any problems at all. I think readers generally get turned off if they have to start following an MC they dislike. That being said, if your story's most popular character isn't the MC and that character is being cut, you may see a backlash.

    Also, a personal opinion that you are free to ignore: don't write sequels about the children of the original characters. That is pretty much the only thing I won't read from an author I like. Way too many issues with the children being nerfed versions of their parents, having father/mother-complexes, agonizing over not being able to meet the heroic bar set by the parents, recycled plot events, the parents being present in the story and better than the new primary characters, etc. Start new. If you're going to use the same world, skip a couple of centuries or something. *End rant*

  10. Walter (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    At least for me, Reviews turbo charged my readership. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the review is to credit for more eyes on your work! Hope things work out for you, and congrats on getting to the end of your current stuff. Hard to bring one of these in for a landing.

  11. Fiona Gregory (Moderator)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @unice5656 So in other words don't name your sequel XXX and the Cursed Child?! lol ;-)

  12. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    Mathtans, I am going to make a really crazy suggestion that either might make a whole lot of sense and get some ideas flowing, or be an entire waste of your energy for reading it.

    Because I think, given what you've listed about having a major tonal shift at that mid-to-third part of T&T, you have something that's like - not exactly, but similar to - two heavily connected, distinct stories. You need all of everything leading up to Part 36 to set the table for you, but the real meal you end up serving is based on what happens after that.

    Why not pull an Evil Dead II?

    The first Evil Dead was basically brand-new filmmakers with only half an idea of what they wanted to make, and when you watch it, even though there's plenty of good stuff, it's seriously bogged down by all those My First Movie hiccups. But in Evil Dead II, they made the first ten minutes into what was basically a recap/remake of the important parts from the first film they were still going to reference in the rest of this one. The diehard fans have both movies if they want them, but for those who just want to watch one movie, Evil Dead II catches everybody up on what happened and then sets itself loose into the new plot.

    For Book 5, especially if you've thought about which callbacks you want to have carried over, do you think you can spend the first ten or fifteen Parts doing a condensed retelling of the first four Books and then moving onto the rest?

    @TanaNari - It does sound like it's an internal advertising issue, if it's your readers getting thrown around because of the mood and sharp plot changes between each book. There's a couple of ways you can help them out:

    - Palate cleansers. Independent short stories bridging the changes between both books, maybe acting as the epilogue for one and the prologue for the other, or a short plot with the previous book's characters (for familiarity's sake) in the tone or themes of the next one. They don't have to be canon, and you can tell your readers that it's like a trailer or a teaser of what the next book's going to be.

    - An actual trailer or teaser of the next book. At those logical conclusions of each one, add in an update (or blog or in-story author's note - whatever's visible to your readers) getting them hyped for the next one. There's a reason every other show has a 'Next Time' thirty-second montage of scenes: when an audience has had their itch scratched for wondering what'll happen next in one story, you've gotta hook them in all over again so they'll come back for the next.

    - Guided cross-advertising. If you know that Reader A was only reading because they liked action (for example), and Reader B only wants comedy, then when it comes to the end of your book, tell them specifically that the next one will have tons of comedy - but that if they want more action, then to read some other book you wrote that at least has an action theme. You'll have better odds of keeping both readers on your site for that much longer.

    - Listing future plans. Because if a reader knows the next book will be comedy but that the book after that is going to be more action, they might keep checking in to see the progress you've made.

    @Fiona - The loophole's that that was technically a play! :P

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  13. revfitz (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @mathtans
    Wrapping up Time & Tied is no small milestone! Longtime writers like you inspire me. It is good to know that writing that many books is doable. As a side note, coming from the States (and starting in a later book) I did just assume that Carrie was from Texas because of her colloquialisms.

    A question for everybody and a little devil's advocate:
    If readers drop off anyway with sequels or with a separate book written in a shared universe what is their benefit versus a separate one-off book? I understand that familiarity to the reader is the theory here but if you have to rebuild your base anyways why not venture to something else entirely?

    I am a total n00b so forgive me if the question seems ignorant (9 out of 10 times that's because the question IS ignorant).

    Existential Terror and Breakfast--A serial with cereal.
    Updates Wednesdays at: revfitz.com
  14. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 5 months ago

    @revfitz - Probably that by the time you get to the sequel, you know your characters and settings so well that you can write more confidently​, shrewdly, start hiding things, play with (even just your own) expectations, and have a greater sense of appreciation for when something changes for someone - 'cause you've watched​ them work so hard to get to this point, and now you know what it means to have them finally succeed or realize it's now all gone.

    First and foremost, you're your own biggest fan. :)

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.

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