Spin-Offs

What do you think about spin-offs in the literary world? A spin-off is not a sequel – those follow the same chracters through several parts of a story. With a spin-off, the characters from the original story may show up occasionally, but are not the focus. It’s also not a remake, where a different person reinterprets an existing story originally by someone else. A spin-off, to be clear, is a work of some type (book, TV show, movie) that takes a character from one book or series, and gives them their own. Think Frasier from Cheers or Angel (sigh) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When it comes to books, in some cases it seems like the author just trying to milk more out of a storyline that had already ended satisfactorily. In others, it can provide a new angle or perspective on a well-loved series. In TV and movies, spin-offs are common – it seems like half the shows have been derived from another one these days, with all the CSIs and Law and Orders and NCISs. Books, maybe a little less so. I can’t think of too many, anyway.

I’m pondering this because I have a vague sort of idea where one of the secondary characters from my trilogy could have a book or two of her own somewhere down the road. 99% of the notion is “and then a bunch of stuff happens” which is also a common notation on my outlines, but the seed has been planted, and I’m curious as to whether I should consider watering it and letting it grow. I suppose it all depends on whether or not my trilogy is at all popular and there’s demand for it, and/or whether the character steps up in my head and starts yelling, “what about meeee?”

Something to think about in the distant future, anyway.

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~ by Nicole Bross on March 2, 2013.

6 Responses to “Spin-Offs”

  1. This is how I write….my book series is a collection of stories from the same two families. They aren’t sequels, exactly, but I do try to give some of the characters who were mains in one book, cameos or mentions in another.

    The reason I write this way is because, as a reader, I love being pulled into a familiar world. Stephen King does a good job of this, with the way he set so many stories in Castle Rock (or other parts of Maine), and had recurring characters, and Easter eggs for the Dark Tower. I always loved picking up a new story and knowing that, in a way, it would feel like a place I’d already been. Anne Rice does this well, too.

    The other reason I do this, though, is because its what my muse wants. I never intended for my first book to turn into more from the same world…but every time I sat down to write, that’s where my mind went. I started creating genealogy trees (I have a pretty complex one online now), and histories, and even discovered that one of the families has a curse. All of these things bring me (and hopefully the reader) deeper into their world, and maybe reading about other family members will help the reader appreciate the ones they’ve read about previously.

    In other words, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, I think it can work very well.

    • That’s how this idea kind of came about too. I’d always intended to write three books and be done with it and move on, but now I’m not so sure… who knows though, the story might end up taking a completely different direction and this character might not end up being as important as I’m thinking she is right now. A lot can happen between now and the end…

  2. A lot of authors write in the same “universe,” which opens up so many avenues and gives you a chance to return to old characters or give a little wink to previous stories.

  3. I totally agree with the previous comments. If a character in your head is going “Hey, I’ve got stuff to say too!” go for it. I have read several series that aren’t about the same characters, but are set in the same world and mention previous characters or histories already written about.

  4. I, for one, like spin-offs. I think that building a whole universe of our own (fantasy/urban fantasy) requires so much research, thought, and attention to detail… there are so many questions to be answered and perspectives to see from. Besides, I actually LIKED Angel, LOL.

I wrote, now you write.

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