Hey everyone, Flobo here.
Last night I was checking out the film “Fast Five” on DVD when I had some downtime. I say “some” downtime, but actually it was me avoiding my daily writing goals again. ANYWAY, so there I was watching the fifth film in a “Street Racing Franchise”, and I was taken aback about how “good” it was. Now, I don’t mean about plot, or story (honestly, it’s the cinematic equivalent to a double bacon cheeseburger) but rather it was the evolution of the main characters that was noteworthy.
The films themselves have evolved from the underground illegal street racing circuits that populate major cities, into an international car-action heist franchise. In the long run, this was actually a masterstroke, as the fifth (!) movie in the franchise was the best financially speaking. However, the characters themselves has grown along with the litany of flicks. For example, Paul Walker’s character of “Brian O’ Conner” was a newbie who didn’t know much about the street racing subculture in the first installment. Could you imagine if the writers decided to stick with that characterization five movies (or four if you count the one he didn’t appear in) later?
With the exception of “The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” the film series has developed a serialized format, which each movie building on the one that came before it.By Release Date: The Fast And The Furious, 2Fast 2Furious, The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, and Fast Five Chronologically: The Fast And The Furious, 2Fast 2Furious, Fast and Furious, and Fast Five, The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
Don’t get me started on the first one (The Fast and The Furious) and the fourth one (Fast and Furious) having similar names… That’s a blog for another time.
As a writer, sometimes you are going to be lucky (or unlucky) enough to bring back your characters for another installment or two. If you are building a franchise of your own, you’ll know that this is tricky. Not only do your characters have to grow within each installment, they are going to have to grow overall throughout the series. This can be very daunting for a creator, and a lot of times authors run out of ideas. It’s a well known fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew so tired of Sherlock Holmes, that he had the character thrown off a cliff to his doom in the short story “The Final Problem”. Doyle eventually caved into fan pressure and brought Sherlock back (now with the Baritsu powers!).
On the other hand:
The adventures of James Bond (with a few exceptions) are mostly episodic. James Bond shows up, flashes his gadgets, saves the day, and gets the girl. Roll Credits. At the end of these credits you would almost always read that “James Bond Will Return In…”. Bing. Bang. Boom. That’ll be 13.50!
There isn’t so much of a need to make your character grow between episodes, and it’s easier to maintain a status quo. (In Bond’s case, he goes about his next mission, instead of having a film’s run time wasted with Bond being haunted by the kills of the last mission). This is a tactic not only used by spy films, but by also television situation comedies. There would be an episode where a character has a harebrained scheme that backfires, only to have the character learn his/her lesson before they do something even more stupid the following week. This allows your audience to view episodes out of order, which is perfect if your destination for your work is broadcast television.
But I can assume that if you are reading this, you are not a television writer. If you are, could you please give me a job? I’m housebroken.
A sequel could be an excellent opportunity to explore your character’s backstory and all that jazz, but it’s also an opportunity to look to your character’s future. What can you throw at your character this time around? How will your character use what he learned in previous installments against this new conflict? Will new characters be brought in to change up dynamics or will familiar faces take on new challenges? The choice as always, is yours.
In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for 007:Skyfall and Faster Six, Furious Seven, EightFast, and NineFurious.