Sunday, December 16, 2007

Seeing Sequels


I just finished reading Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH and greatly enjoyed it. The book ends with some of the rats having escaped into a national forest with the intention of building their own civilization separate from that of human beings. I immediately began to think of sequels in my head, a whole series of them in fact. What dangers would the rats face as they begin the hard work of building their civilization? What adventures would they have? How would their civilization be different or similar to that of humans?

The first sequels might feature primarily the rats’ struggles against natural enemies and the attempts to grow enough food for themselves while remaining hidden from human observation. Perhaps there would be politics, splinter groups, the development of a religion. Later would come the inevitable, contact renewed with humanity. What would be the result? Would there be conflict? Would the rats have to flee again to start over elsewhere? Would the two races find ways to coexist? Might not they even complement each other? Imagine our first adventures into space with rats as our equal companions rather than our hangers on. Would rats join us on Mars, not as stowaways but as partners?

I found out that Robert C. O’Brien (real name Robert Leslie Conly), who wrote the book, never did a sequel, although his daughter Jane Leslie Conly wrote two. I’ve never heard anything about these so I take it they weren’t that successful. I also wonder whether Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” series was inspired or influenced by O’Brien’s work. The “NIMH” book was published in 1971, Redwall in 1986.

What about you? When you finish reading a book that you really like do you start imagining sequels that you wish the writer had written or would write? Have you ever thought of writing one just for the fun of it? I have, although I almost certainly never will because I have too many stories of my own that I want to write. No doubt, though, some of the ideas triggered by the “Rats of NIMH” will appear in other places in my work, in other forms, down the line.

Imagination is never wasted.

16 comments:

Erik Donald France said...

Imagination is never wasted, indeed. Universal energies. . .

I loved Watership Down back in the day. We used to have rabbits living under our porch in Southside Chicago. Now there are rabbits living in Detroit -- rat-friendly, I'm guessing. Living together in harmony and hiding from the people. . .

Lana Gramlich said...

Ironically, I've been considering rereading Watership Down, myself. Never read "NIMH," but I absolutely loved Don Bluth's take on it!

Mimi Lenox said...

Yes, I think about writing all the time. There are a million stories formulating at any given moment triggered by everything under the sun....except rats.

YUK.

But I'm sure it was a great book!

Travis said...

There are times when I've finished a book and wanted sequels because of the characters. I just wanted to find out more about them and go on to the next adventures.

I've often thought about new stories with some of my favorites but I've never gone so far as to write any.

Angie said...

"Imagination is never wasted."

Definitely not. That's a wonderful quote -- very simple and very true.

I've always felt inspiration from this or that fictional source. From when I was a little kid playing Superman or Star Trek on the playground, to when I was a teenager and started writing those stories down, along with original stories of my own, I've always felt the "What if...?" urge. I honestly don't see how any writer can be inspired by everything except other creative works. [shrug]

BTW, if you're interested, try Googling ["rats of NIMH" AND fanfic] -- I tried it and there's a lot more out there than I expected. :)

Angie

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, yes, Watership Down was great, even better than the Rats of NIMH because it was better written. You know we don't see many rabbits down here; I guess they've moved to Detroit.

Lana, I've got the book if you want to read it. I should read Watership Down again too.

Mimi, thanks for stopping by. I would not have thought I'd be a big fan of rats either, but this one worked. Of course, I actually worked with rats in Graduate school so I have that connection to the story.

Travis, yes, to find out where the characters go and how they live.

Angie, I never thought about googling fanfiction with the Rats of NIMH. I'll have to give it a shot. Maybe there is some good stuff.

Bernita said...

Noo, can't say I've ever had the urge to write a sequel to a favourite story; but, like Travis, I've often wished some stories would never end.

Ello said...

I saw the Nimh movie and I'm sure the book would be much better. I love when a book is so good and the characters so good you want more from the author. If there is a series in place, I'm in heaven, if not, I want to write the author and ask why they aren't working on it. Have not imagined writing it myself but I have had dreams with characters that I have loved...

Lisa said...

Hmm -- it's never occurred to me to write a sequel to another book and for some reason (I think it's because I'm not used to reading books that are intended as a series), I am always overjoyed when I writer does write a sequel or pursues a series. For a while, Anne Rice couldn't write about enough vampires to satisfy me. She could have literally (ha) gone on forever with those books and I'd have never gotten sick of them. I also liked some mystery series at times, although they really weren't sequels, they were really series with the same characters reappearing. I'm not sure I've read many actual sequels that pick up a storyline and keep going with it. Great post.

Steve Malley said...

One hard thing about sequels: all drama takes place at the extreme edges of things, beginnings, endings, terrible threats.

We'd have to rejoin those wee NIMH rats at the twilight of their civilization, with everything falling apart and their world in decay, or in the midst of the greatest threat it's ever known, worse by far than anything in the first book.

Otherwise, it's just James Bond and Stephanie Plum pick up their mail...

I have trouble suffering through the travails of characters I love, making it through to the other side and imagining them back out at the edges again!

Travis Erwin said...

I have mentally wrote the future for a few characters but I don't think I'd ever base a novel on such, at least not directly.

I also have several ideas for sequels for the three novels I've already finished. Now if the original would just sell and the the public would clamor for the sequel.

And if frogs had wings ... ;)

Julie said...

The nearest I've got to a sequel is writing in a particular style as a result of being exposed to a distinctive work or works.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernita, some of the first few bits of fiction I wrote as a kid were essentially fan fiction. They only lightly altered characters that I'd come to love through reading. Of course, I never submitted or tried to sell any of them, or even finished them, but it was part of how I learned to write.

Ello, some dreams would be cool. I've had dreams about worlds, like Conan's world, or Barsoom, or Middle Earth, but with different characters, usually some version of myself. These were fun.

Lisa, I've seen that done with trilogies, where one just picks up where the other left off. I'm reading Dennis McKiernan's Tolkienesque trilogy now and there's no real ending to the first two books, just a continuation. I hate this unless I have all the books handy to be read one after another.

Steve Malley, that's a very good point. And it would make it difficult to continue the story of the NIMH rats as I was thinking about it being continued. We'd have to see all that development stuff as backstory. Excellent point.

Travis Erwin, good luck with those novels. and if Frogs had Wings I'd be eating buffalo frogs.

Julie, I've done that too. In fact I wrote a Robert E. Howard pastiche a couple of years back and really tried to get into his voice. Not sure how well it worked but the story sold.

Julie said...

Charles - you seen this one before?

http://www.thecimmerian.com/

In the style of Howard.

Gabby said...

I think that no matter how good something is (be it books, tv, movies), almost everyone thinks further on the "what ifs" of the story, or what happens next, or what happened when ... (things that maybe we didn't see). Which is why fanfiction.net is so popular. I'm guilty of it too, though I have to say, as of yet, my fanfiction has only touched TV (and anime). I don't know if I'm bold enough to attempt similar writing styles (though definitely not something you would have to do, something I think would be helpful if you're writing someone else's writing -- if that makes sense). Interestingly enough (or maybe not), I find that I'm REALLY good at characertizations of known characters -- I seem to capture them very well (or so I've been told). Anyway, I'm rambling, and, like Lana, have never read Nimh, but also liked the movie.

Michelle's Spell said...

I think about rewriting because I'm not creative at all and have to steal the best plots! I kind of like updating things as well. And I love a story that doesn't end -- my favorite set of novels are the Updike Rabbit novels. I cried when Rabbit died.