Let Your Characters Live On Without You

Let readers hunger for more.

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I don’t understand everyone’s obsession with sequels.

Or entire series, for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong — I love all things Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

But what I don’t love is when people — writers in particular — can’t seem to let go of the stories and characters they’ve so closely associated themselves with.

After awhile, continuing the same story about the same character gets tiring.

At some point, all TV shows will come to an end.

All book series will bid farewell.

All characters’ stories will stop.

Well. Officially, legally, anyway.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who love your characters so much that even if you don’t continue writing about the imaginary people you created, they will.

Some creators sake their heads at things like fanfiction and roleplay writing. But in doing that, you’re shutting out an entire population of writers who are spending their time creating stories and exercising their skills for free, on their own time, for nothing more than the love of doing so.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

There are also people out there who just won’t be satisfied with endings or the way you tell certain stories. If they want to go off on their own and let your characters live on in fanfiction, let them. People can’t legally make money off your creations without your permission — you have absolutely nothing to lose there. And maybe even some things to gain.

But I still can’t help but ask myself why.

Why can’t we just let things go? Say goodbye? Let the past die?

When you break up with a significant other in real life, you (hopefully) move on to someone else.

When you lose a loved one, you grieve, and then you stand up and keep moving forward.

So why, when a book ends or a character dies on someone’s favorite TV show, can they not just … deal?

More importantly, why do some trolls feel the need to attack creators for the way they chose to write a story? Why do people take these things so personally? It’s not personal. A writer actively made a choice, it was their choice to make, and there’s nothing their audience can do to change it once it’s published and out there in the world.

I don’t care if, one day, when I write a book and you hate the ending, you go off and write your own version and post it on your blog and feel good about yourself because of that. It’s still my story, and all you’re really doing is giving my original work more publicity. Go ahead.

But do not ask me to change something I have already published.

Don’t beg me to write a sequel.

Don’t scream at me for doing my job just because you think you could have done it better.

Either go off on your own and grieve by wriitng, or let it go.

Writers should never have to feel like they need to keep extending a story because people ask them to. I get the business side of it, trilogies make more money, you have to serve the needs and desires of your audience and all that.

But at some point, you have to say goodbye.

A writer should never have to feel guilty, or endure insults and hate, as a result. You can feel negative emotions toward a story without lashing out at its creator. I promise, it’s possible.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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