Following up on last week’s post, Attention-Grabbing Hooks, I was thinking about sequels.
Probably not the sequels you’re thinking about right now. Because if you’re anything like me, you think sequels refers to subsequent novels in a series. But until author Jami Gold’s post about Cliffhangers, I hadn’t heard of any other kind of sequels. Gold linked to a great resource for articles about writing fiction from author Janice Hardy.
What I learned from Hardy’s articles (one and two) is that there are scenes between scenes called sequels. Yeah. Here I was, believing that the non-action scenes and periods of reflection I love writing were simply that. But apparently, they actually have a name — sequels.
Now, I’ve always understood the structure of scenes. The main character has a smaller goal for the scene, and at the end they achieve it, or they don’t, or things don’t go the way they expected, etc. The options for how your MC does or doesn’t achieve their scene-goal vary. For me, I just thought the period of reflection afterward, where the MC figures out what to do next to achieve the big goal of the novel was all part of the same scene.
Guess I was wrong. These emotional reactions (which can be as small as one line or span a few pages) are sequels. They bridge each scene to the next, to keep the novel moving forward without losing steam. But does the existence of sequels mean that all non-action scenes are merely bridges? Does this mean that scenes only consists of the MC aiming for a goal? (Apparently?)
For whatever reason, I had always thought that non-action scenes, these emotional times where the MC reacts to the consequences of their actions were simply different kinds of scenes. And in a way, these sequels are. Perhaps they were just given a different name to separate the introspection from the action sequences.
Yet these non-action scenes, these sequels, are just as important as the action scenes. They allow the reader to get inside the head of the MC. They lend to the atmosphere. They allow foreshadowing and mystery revelations that keep the reader interested. These sequels are really just a different kind of tension to keep the reader on their toes.
The question in my mind now, after thinking about cliffhangers, is do sequels need hooks at the end?
But now I’m just confusing myself because I sometimes use emotional hooks instead of action hooks to end a chapter. Does the use of an emotional hook mean that I ended the chapter on a sequel instead of a scene?
Does any of this really matter in the end as long as the reader is interested enough to keep reading?
It’s good to know about the inner workings of writing, but I find thinking about it too much only slows me down. All of this should come naturally. But perhaps having this information in the back of the mind while writing will make the storytelling all the better for it.